Poetry - January, 2011


Stages of recovery in simile

After the sorrow, the anger
rises like dust, a mite
with its own life, its own mighty
spirit, its power so buoyant
and light that it's borne in the air
like war.                                          

After the mourning, the poem
forms like mold, its green
spores a wonder, its story damp
and slow, ancient, growing,
moving through the quiet world
like fear.                                         

After the shock, an energy
gathers, a secret battery
charged, and whatever we know
for sure has been used
up arises from some holy ground
like food.                                            


Getting ready to go

she said her mother was waiting
could I take her there    she was
waiting and would worry    she asked
how my mother was and I said
you are my mother    she looked
amused    then she leaned over
and took my arm    she said
does mother know where we are
I said yes mom    she knows  
she's waiting    will you
tell her I'll be there   she said
as soon as I can get to the bus
I'll tell her I said   she patted
my arm and hummed   give your
mother my love    she said


Dechi Palmo

Discovered a few moments ago that my sister, my sole sister,
The sister I have admired for more than fifty years, the sister
Who rocked my cradle with her toe as she did her homework,
The sister who was never especially leery of punching us out
When she felt we deserved it which I have to say yes we did,
This sister has a name I never ever heard before this morning.
Dechi Palmo she is called in the Tibetan Buddhist monastery
She graces. Depa for short, she says cheerfully, on the phone.
I know where that phone is, the only one in all the monastery.
It's hanging on the wall outside the kitchen where she works,
When she is not teaching, or praying, or meditating, or every
One of the thousand other tasks she does silently and smiling.
It means Happiness Glorious Woman, she says, or Happiness
Glorious She Who Meditates. I nearly faint with seething joy.
Sometimes, not all that often, but more than we maybe admit,
Things line up exactly right, all hilarious and wild and bright,
And you see a thing just as it really is, deep in its holy bones.
You think that's never going to happen again but then it does.
You can't command it, you can't make it stay, you cannot do
Much of anything except slouch there grinning and mystified,
It turns out, but to be occasionally grinning and mystified, ah!


Esau’s lament

Without your words, my breath cracks,
dust on sand; without your words,
my limbs break, bones on graves.
Oh, my father, me too.                                 without
Can even this be stolen?                  your words
No syllables of blessing left?
No mouthed morsel of hope?         Oh, my father,
I alone am the hunted,         your words,
trapped and slain,           me, too
the spoils stolen again,                        me, too,
that fair enemy,
                                  without, without


At this age

Dark as birds, the kind
              sober young men come
                            quickly when you go down

on the ice, rush to see
             for themselves
                         whether you rise

broken or whole,  forever
             changed or unfazed
                           by such a fall, the world

or at least the axel
             it spins on all unspun    
                          and you the mistress

of the moment, the ice
             as apt as any metaphor
                          for death