switched on gutenberg
switched on gutenberg
a portrait of my mother
For each person she is something, someone
different. The dream realized. The wearer
of pink and bows. The curly head.
The sly beauty. The loyal
friend. The artistic one. The one
with whom you hid under the table.
The desired one. The sharp-tongue.
The one who eloped.
The singer of lovely songs. The memory
of being held. The one who got
away. The free spirit. The painter of colorful
portraits. The smartest one
in the class. The fastest
runner. The one who thought
she knew god. The insane
roommate. The wife, the wife
the wife. The ex, ex, ex. The mother,
the mother, the mother (the mother).
The misdiagnosed one. The estranged
family member. The black sheep.
The still loved. The one who
smokes. The one absent
from the wedding.
The one absent, absent, absent.
The one who now shows up every week.
The one who sings to your children
as you don’t remember her singing
I was looking through old drafts and found a rough draft of this poem, first penned 18 months ago. I cleaned it up a bit yesterday, and present it here. Let me know what you think!
wing and chicory
where does the river flow?
all knowledge still waiting
the self submerged
a certain lassitude as midsummer nears
relaxation. the bones untightening
sometimes I ask myself if happiness
is a choice
how bright the bird
even sunlight seems to envy
someday I will paint a goldfinch dancing with a bluebird
and call it ‘the sun loved the sky’
each leaf a cup
water gathers and flows
sometimes it seems that what I love most
is what she doesn’t yet know
the cucumbers hangs
gathers water and sunlight beneath a deep green skin
at times she is so determined to reach me
I feel she could swim through air
how yearning becomes an arrow within the body
to be a bird and barely weight the tree
to know that all I must do to provide comfort is touch her
Nothing makes me more appreciative of the small joys of life than having both children fall sick. Last week was so stressful, and I just thought longingly of lazy days, even those punctuated with all of the highs and lows of spending 12 hours with a toddler and almost kindergartener (oh, the drama, crying, bickering, and whining).. The girls were better on Monday and I was ripe with readiness for a simple day.
A good summer day
Everyone is well again. The rain
cleared, our friends joined us,
we shared food and the children played.
I read two poems and half of an article,
crying was minimal
and no one threw sand. Naps
were good. Refried beans with cheese
and tortillas make a perfect after nap meal.
The avocado was perfect. The muffins rose
wonderfully. The toddler wanted
to get out of her high hair so she could dance.
We all danced and jumped and sang. We laughed.
The skies stayed clear and we rode to the pool,
friends were there. We went to the changing room,
got naked and dressed. We went in the pool and practiced
swimming. Friends sat at the table beside us.
We were hungry and we ate again. We shared food,
some of it from our garden. My husband joined us,
more playing, more talking. Our friend gave us coins
from another country, we lined them up and looked
at the shiny pictures. On the ride home D said, for the first time,
“I love that” and laughed as usual as we rode down the hill.
We sang on the ride home. Fireflies pulsing in the grass.
All reflection and gleam
the lake in midwinter sparkles
in brief sunlight. Waves lap
against their frozen brethren.
I could compare the half submerged branch
to my grandmother, dwindling
towards her demise. And that shatter
of ice by the shore and that return of light,
to heaven. When someone you love is dying
every branch, bird, cloud, all of them speak
of endings, and the possibility of resurrection.
Even the heaved asphalt rippled by frost
or stubborn roots speaks, says, nothing human lasts,
even that which seems harder than stone cannot continue.
The lake is heartbreakingly beautiful
today shimmering as it does against the pale
blue sky. Entranced, some part of me wants to linger
on this edge between the beaver gnawed saplings
and the hundreds of waterfowl standing on ice,
or floating on its ribboned edge. Mesmerized
by waves, their multi-colored hues, I almost forget
she is dying almost forget the cold, and that my hat
isn’t stopping the wind. But I am on a schedule
and have a daughter who needs me home, soon. She
will never know my grandmother
except through stories and pictures
but that will have to be enough. Some part of me whispers
-it is all too much-this water and the layers of ice. Even these sounds,
of water against ice and the crackle and creak of ice beside shore,
they overwhelm me with their beauty and I am so glad to know them,
to know the spine of these brittle stems that sway in the wind,
and this specific dark blue that water has only in deep winter.
Another part of me wants to scream,
-I can’t contain it all-. Her death, her life everything she means to me
how can it reside in these interiors?
And all who await her after death. Those I loved,
and those I knew only through her. Familiar and strange
as water that has turned to ice, geometric, patterned, so recently fluid.
The body infinite,
if only in its loving.
Summer Love Poem
I love the sunlight
on my eyelids, golden.
I love the salt
of the oyster, taste of ocean.
I love my daughter’s voice
as she sings a favorite song.
I love that first moment submerged
in the pool or ocean. I love tomato,
sun-ripe and warm, misted
with salt. I love how her lip presses
as she shares a favorite imagined fancy.
I love when he leans into a laugh.
I love the variegated
lines of pale blue on the pool floor
as I stay under for as long as breath
will allow. I love that all of my limbs
work. I love the way the ground is lit
with fireflies as bats swoop overhead.
I love that first spoonful of gelato,
as the waves crash nearby, lush.
I love the late summer cacophony
of cicadas singing their matins.
I love my hands as they prepare food,
knowing the different pressure needed
to pierce tomato, melon, cucumber.
I love that I can’t remember a time I
couldn’t read. I love that first
sip of an iced drink after a hot hour.
I love that moment when a book
is almost done and you want to wait,
you can’t bear to imagine your life
without this book, but you rush
to know how it all resolves.
I love when the children’s voices
all blur to a bee-like hum as they climb
and jump and plot
adventures of stick and sand.
The baby with her face pressed
to your face is at her happiest
forehead to forehead, mouth
to mouth, or mouth
blowing raspberries on
any fleshy part of you.
of the self, go against every message
the media has ever sent.
These legs are strong,
you can carry the four year old on your back
after she falls,
even as she clings, while sobbing,
and the one year old is on your hip,
loop one arm behind your back, supporting.
Somehow, you manage
to balance them both
even as you say goodbye
to the fruit you were about to pick.
Some days, parenthood feels like a constant
lesson in letting go
of expectation, of the little plans
that defined your afternoon, little
to say of the grand hopes and plans
of art and literature,
and some days it seems like
if you just allow it, you will receive
every grace possible.
surround these children
who press themselves
into you, as your body
love, a great acceptance of you
as you are right now: disheveled
mussed, tired, unsung in any circle
but this one.
Talking with a friend today, I mentioned that I have continued to write almost every day(though not every day, as my father passed away 9 days ago) but that I haven’t been pushing myself to polish, or post. So, here is today’s fast write, with an added 10 minutes of polishing.
What survived winter
It was a hard winter, on that
we can all agree. Snow and more
snow. Temperatures below
10, more times than anyone
local can remember. Bid goodbye
to the large rosemary, and lavender.
Goodbye new rose. Watch all of the bay
leaves fade out of green. Wait. Break brittle
fig branches, look for green, but wait. Weeks
later than usual spot green knobs as small
as a 12 point face o. They circle
the base of the fig tree. Try not to hope
for more. Restrain from breaking
into a tiny jig. Only remove that
which is loose in soil. In the second
week of May find one shoot of new growth
on the yellowed bay. A whole branch of the fig unfurls,
slowly. Garden time is different, grass and weeds
will overtake a fallen pruner or glove, even
while your pea plant makes minuscule movements
towards the branched twig you upended beside it. Green
strawberries shake off their white skirts. Wait,
wait again. In this place, more than any other,
believe in resurrection. We may not feast this summer,
but we will dine on the fruits of our own small plot.
because I missed a few days, and because today’s weather inspired a moment of poetry
Sun eyes (May day)
Two days of a heavy grey sky
mean that I can barely see
this morning, as I walk
into full sun. I recently learned
that our eyes are better suited
for an underwater environment,
and today, I believe it. My daughter
and I often sneeze when we walk into
sunlight. If I could’ve requested she get darker
eyes, I probably would have, though I admit
I am happy that I’ve only been asked,
twice, if she is mine. People in this country
see color before any other feature. There is nothing
watery about today’s sky. And though I have to squint,
I’d hug the sun if I could, I feel that happy to see its return.
Let the poems be all of rain
when even the air has forgotten
how it felt to be naked of rain,
and the seedlings are getting drunk,
and the worms stretch
not just across sidewalks,
but parking lots. Grown bold, water
rushes from distant places, joins hands
in the clouds, crying, me too! Wind joins
in, forgets it is an altogether different
element, pleads with its cousin
and rain agrees. There is nothing
but rain. Dream of the self becoming
atmospheric. Remember you
have always been more water than not.
Clouds descend over the almost sun,
I tell my daughter it always made me think
of heaven. Heaven leads to haloes
the soul, and somehow, to space. Where
we live, she confirms. I usually seem
so much bigger than rain, but today,
I am as infinitesimal as a drop in a waterfall.