Tuesday, April 21, 2009
Swans, those seasonal birds,
are for family on my golden compass.
In the 1940s, in Amsterdam,
Your grandmother ate one.
Imagine, in the dark bowl of your belly,
A creature from a fairy tale!
They are from the sea life
I led (did I mean fled?).
The empty rowboat on the shore,
The ocean sloshing its sides,
That’s for loss of a parent.
And then another.
And on shore there’s the chicken named Gertrude,
Wandering in and out between my feet,
Leaving a sad, small egg -- the best she could do --
one Saturday morning
Before Mr. Miller took her away.
Gertrude, she is for an unexpected guest.
Mr. Miller, for a kiss.
The frost covered window for loneliness --
The greyhound for making paths to nowhere.
Why need such a compass
If one were never leaving?
Or what need one of lilac bushes? For asking when?
Monday, April 6, 2009
Friday, April 3, 2009
Teach Me to Look
What is this spell you cast?
I want to ask, how can the moon’s gold last?
Rolling waves of stars and sky?
Their light multiplied by the iris of your eye!
You spun their orbit on a wheel of water,
And wound the cypress to a blackened spire.
The little village you put to sleep
Beneath a blue haze,
While men and women slept,
Some cold, more hungry,
But none so full of your praise --
A blanket of paint, cool and quiet,
Under the stars eternal riot.
That night, and there were many,
When you turned your gaze to the sky,
To the canvas above calling you,
Calling you, goodbye.
Someday I must sing a song of praise:
to the bricks, their reds
and browns reflected on the river,
and to the immigrant faces that roam my city
long after the mills have closed,
the imprint on my child's face --
a man in the wheat field with a scythe--
the field all brown and gold!
And somewhere in that painting is a castle,
perhaps behind the hill, and in the castle
a tapestry containing all things--
above all, the explanation why
men are old when they are born.
Someday I must sing a song of praise
to the small white petals bred
from the heartache of winter's loneliest
peasants (apple trees),
to the fireflies’ light,
the songs of children praising mud in summer;
their knees bruised like the bows of rowboats.
To their skin rubied and leathered,
And dressed in a room of pressed white curtains
with little balls begged from each knot.
To the leaves curling up from the cool river air,
a woodpecker, and the voices of chimneys:
Lucinda, Lucinda, over here, I'm over here--