–Aracelis GirmayPlease raise your hand,whomever else of youhas been a child,lost, in a marketor a mall, withoutknowing it at first, followinga stranger, accidentallythinking he is yours,your family or parent, evengrabbing for his hands,even calling the wordyou said then for “Father,”only to see the facelook strangely down, utterlyforeign, utterly not the onewho loves you, youwho are a bird suddenlystunned by the glass partitionsof rooms.How farthe world you knew, & tall,& filled, finally, with strangers.
I do not remember back then
when I was trying to leave one world
for the next, my girl-mother on the table,
all her darkness torn
for our two-headedness,
when around our violence, floated
years away from that staggering
out of one depth into another,
I remember her when I crack, again,
open the (already) starlight of the pomegranate,
when I bow my ear down toward it like a deer
without knowing why or from where
the hunger comes, faintly it screams
the memory of stars,
of estrangement, the lungs
pumping with air
I take, & take
what I cannot give back
i like my body when it is with your
body. It is so quite new a thing.
Muscles better and nerves more.
i like your body. i like what it does,
i like its hows. i like to feel the spine
of your body and its bones,and the trembling
-firm-smooth ness and which i will
again and again and again
kiss, i like kissing this and that of you,
i like, slowly stroking the,shocking fuzz
of your electric furr,and what-is-it comes
over parting flesh….And eyes big love-crumbs,
and possibly i like the thrill
of under me you so quite new
–Paisley RekdalI have been taught never to brag but now I cannot help it: I keep a beautiful garden, all abundance, indiscriminate, pulling itself from the stubborn earth: does it offend you to watch me working in it, touching my hands to the greening tips or tearing the yellow stalks back, so wild the living and the dead both snap off in my hands? The neighbor with his stuttering fingers, the neighbor with his broken love: each comes up my drive to receive his pitying, accustomed consolations, watches me work in silence awhile, rises in anger, walks back. Does it offend them to watch me not mourning with them but working fitfully, fruitlessly, working the way the bees work, which is to say by instinct alone, which looks like pleasure? I can stand for hours among the sweet narcissus, silent as a point of bone. I can wait longer than sadness. I can wait longer than your grief. It is such a small thing to be proud of, a garden. Today there were scrub jays, quail, a woodpecker knocking at the white- and-black shapes of trees, and someone’s lost rabbit scratching under the barberry: is it indiscriminate? Should it shrink back, wither, and expurgate? Should I, too, not be loved? It is only a little time, a little space. Why not watch the grasses take up their colors in a rush like a stream of kerosene being lit? If I could not have made this garden beautiful I wouldn’t understand your suffering, nor care for each the same, inflamed way. I would have to stay only like the bees, beyond consciousness, beyond self-reproach, fingers dug down hard into stone, and growing nothing. There is no end to ego, with its museum of disappointments. I want to take my neighbors into the garden and show them: Here is consolation. Here is your pity. Look how much seed it drops around the sparrows as they fight. It lives alongside their misery. It glows each evening with a violent light.
After the Winter
Some day, when trees have shed their leaves
And against the morning’s white
The shivering birds beneath the eaves
Have sheltered for the night,
We’ll turn our faces southward, love,
Toward the summer isle
Where bamboos spire the shafted grove
And wide-mouthed orchids smile.
And we will seek the quiet hill
Where towers the cotton tree,
And leaps the laughing crystal rill,
And works the droning bee.
And we will build a cottage there
Beside an open glade,
With black-ribbed blue-bells blowing near,
And ferns that never fade.
Not sure why/how all the words got cut off. Sigh.
Then happiness became an egg that broke across our table. Fragments of shell through which yolk pooled to placemats: bright goopy gold that filled loose napkin folds as if all I could wish for from luck. My three-year-old pulls himself up alongside to mash peas on his tray and meow at my hand and command time to follow and stay. Can I have that for a minute, is what he asks now about my wallet, or a ball, or an eraser, so he can bring them like a word between his lips. Will you stay with me for a minute, is what he whispers every evening, and then whispers, One more minute while he stares at a bar on his crib till his eyelids collapse. The minute is a smell of smoke. A texture of leaves in a barrel of flame, the rasp of a match in late sun. Just one, but the days pass in cages for clouds, or for wayward balloons… a minute’s the sound of the egg as it breaks but its fragments still cleave to the origin shape. That’s a mebble, says my son, about everything. We sit at the table and count out the ways, our three lucky stars, our ten lucky stars, we add them to how many snowflakes it takes to transform the back yard to a shell. We wanted the mebble, the mebble was over, the mebble was all we now had.
Inside me lived a small donkey. I didn’t believe in magic, but the donkey was a sucker for the stuff. Psychics, illusionists, arthritics who’d predict the rainfall. That was the year I had trouble walking. I over-thought it and couldn’t get the rhythm right. The donkey re-taught me. “This foot. Yes, then that one. And swing your arms as if you’re going to trial to be exonerated of a crime you’ve most definitely committed.” Next, trouble sleeping because I’d need to crank the generator in my chest so frequently. Seeing I was overworked, the donkey finally hauled it out— it looked shiny and new, a silver dollar— and tossed it into a flock of birds who had to fly a long way to find safety. I knew then I was a large and dangerous man, what with this donkey living inside me, but felt futile. One day, during a final lesson on breathing, the donkey asked what kind of jeans I was wearing. I said, “The somber ones.” “Poor kid.” “So will you be staying on for a third year, donkey?” “No. I think I should be leaving soon. I think I should go and await your arrival beside the crumpled river.” “Yes, I suppose you have many important matters to attend to, but maybe one day I will come and join you for a drink or, perhaps, for a brief nap.”