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.”
(after the spanish) forgive me if i laugh you are so sure of love you are so young and i too old to learn of love. the rain exploding in the air is love the grass excreting her green wax is love and stones remembering past steps is love, but you. you are too young for love and i too old. once. what does it matter when or who, i knew of love. i fixed my body under his and went to sleep in love all trace of me was wiped away forgive me if i smile young heiress of a naked dream you are so young and i too old to learn of love.
I said looking at your portrait
and the greeting was stunned
between my lips.
Again the pang,
knowing that it is useless;
the scorched weather
of your absence.
dije mirando tu retrato
y se pasmó el saludo
entre mis labios.
Otra vez la punzada,
el saber que es inútil;
el calcinado clima
de tu ausencia.
To Go Lightly
–Ángela Hernández Núñez
In innocence, eternity is possible.
But I have loved in haste,
with the attentiveness of objects that fly away.
I find myself saying, close the doors.
I find myself saying, love you ought to leave.
I find myself touching lines in the stone.
I think about the women who waited,
not for Ulysses, but for ordinary men.
Those who laid siege to cities,
beyond the great width
of their own hearts.
I have loved after and during the storm.
I carry a burden of light:
it turns the air to ashes.