Category Archives: Uncategorized

Solstice

Oh, solstice,
how can you come so soon?
I am not ready
to wash my canning jars
yet.

On Wondering If We Should Have Another Child

In the story,
the dark wizard cleaves his soul
and secrets the sliver
into some unsuspecting object.

To do it, even once,
takes unspeakable power.

It is meant to be security,
for should his body die,
this piece of him
would live on. But

it is also
a constant terror.

For there, out
now in the world,
is a fragment
of his very self,

and should it be
destroyed –

But no, no poem can stand that,
much less a man –

So it seems, perhaps, safer
to create a second piece -
but does that halve
the jeopardy, or double it?

Even the old texts
do not say.

Mother’s Day Poem, draft 2: Nesting

The wasp is building a nest
outside the bathroom window.
She dips her sleek face
into each cell of it in turn,
each cell, so perfectly fitted
to her body, and to the next,
and the nest itself so carefully sited,
south-facing, behind the storm glaze,
and so warmed and protected
from both sides. She has not figured
perhaps, the strength
of summer sun through glass,
nor the brace of posions
easy to human hands.

For now, I watch her
as I brush my teeth.
She moves from cell to cell,
building a womb of paper
that might bring her eggs to life
and to the world. I do not know
if a wasp can love her brood,
but I am enough certain
that she would die in its defense
to fear her.

For a moment she rests,
then starts again the careful
repetition, and suddenly
all I can think of
is myself,
heavy with anticipation,
folding the same six pairs
of tiny socks, over
and over again.

Mother’s Day Poem

The wasp is building a nest
outside the bathroom window.She dips her sleek face
into each cell of it in turn,
each cell, so perfectly fitted
to her body, and to the next,
and the nest itself so carefully sited,
south-facing, between two panes of glass,
and so warmed and protected
from both sides. It would be ideal,
but for the fact that I would like
to open the window, and
I would not like to be stung.

For now, I watch her
as I brush my teeth.
She moves from cell to cell,
building, smoothing,
then settles at the top
for a moment, then starts
again and for the life of me,
all I can think of
is myself, all big belly
and anticipation,
folding the same six pairs
of tiny socks, over
and over again.

Untitled Baby Poem #33

She is asleep, probably,
in the car: one of the things
I swore I’d never do,
in those lovely pregnant days
when I was a perfect parent,
before each moment of quiet
grew precious as wine, or sugar,
before she outgrew the bucket seat,
and woke each time I tried to carry her inside.

I should go check on her. When she wakes,
she’ll be upset, alone and in her carseat,
though safe enough in the driveway,
cool day and her daddy’s in the barn right there,
probably too far to hear her if she cries,
but he’d notice if an unmarked van pulled up
to steal her away. Probably.

But the house is so still and silent.
It’s hard to explain the quality of stillness
that is the absence of a high-strung toddler,
the absence of the endless why, the mama now,
the questing hands, half-swallowed puzzle pieces,
half-chewed sandwiches, half-finished thoughts,
always interrupted, always cut short. “I’m sorry,”

I say every time I’m on the phone, because even
if I do finish a sentence, it was probably about how she’s
pooping on the potty, and probably you don’t care. “It’s hard
to have a conversation in this life.”

Outside, the crocuses keep coming up,
despite her determination to yank out every one.
The daffodils are numerous to the point of safety,
and their bulbs are deeper-set, besides.

And then suddenly, my milk lets down.
I think she is awake.

Dearly beloved:

Perhaps in Nigeria,
one may be so addressed
without suspicion.
Certainly none
of my other emails
begin so sweetly –
it is almost a pleasure
to receive one.

Greetings in the name
of humanity.
And greetings to you,
oh giver of unbelievable gifts!
But you must not have
done enough homework, quite.
Here in the good America,
we do not much mind

if wealth acquisition
without humility,

all is vanity. Here
we are all dying
of cancer, all our late husbands
have just passed away,
all our money has just slipped
through our fingers,
we are doing, already,
all we can.

I hate to leave you like this,
awaiting urgently my reply,
oh beloved, diligent Christian,
former government aide.
No, I shall not send you
my name, full, nor my marital status.
I would send you roses, perhaps.
I shall pray over it.

Untitled baby poem #32

It seems that something must be lost
each day: forgotten, misplaced,
or dropped and splashed or shattered
on the dingy linoleum floor
that has not seen a mop in -
well, you see, she’s a toddler now.
Still not sleeping, so neither am I,
so the only question is, what will it be?
Which detail omitted, which instruction
followed halfway before veering off
into some dark wood of confusion,
which sliver of glass will evade the broom
to lodge, sparkling, in my heel?

Intimacy

I was really struck by this article’s suggestion of intimacy as the reason Americans have such a hard time with breastfeeding, and especially breastfeeding in public. I don’t know if or how other cultures are different; I’ve only been part of this one, but I know that in this one, intimacy is synonymous with sex. I know that I was shocked to learn the difference, to discover that many of the joys of physical contact that I had always associated with sexuality were, in fact, just physical joy.

I do remember, after some months of celibacy and relative bodily isolation at Tassajara, realizing how much I craved touch, just touch. It took a while to distinguish that from heartbreak and loneliness. But how blissful the rare hour when a masseuse would offer her services to the students. And how much time spent in the hot springs trying to recreate the warmth of a hug.

So: Joy in the feeling of skin on skin, the scent of breath and sweat, nuzzling the little soft place at the base of her neck, staring adoringly into each others’ eyes – yes, it is intimate. And breasts we think of sexually, of course, so that compounds the problem. But I think the real problem is that we don’t touch each other enough, we don’t know how to be intimate without being sexual. And so we don’t know how to observe it without being offended.

(See also.)

What You Still Know by Heart

Pieces of poems – quaff, oh quaff
this sweet nepenthe. Lines of script
from when you used to stand on stage.
What here shall miss -

The phone number
of your best friend from grade school,
and the name of the street
you lived on before you moved.

Wildflowers that bloom in winter,
freckles on the cheek of your first love.
The sound of the whole sangha
falling to its knees.

How to whistle for a cat long dead.
How your mother likes her coffee,
how your grandmother took her gin.
The boddhisatva vow – my ancient, twisted karma,

our toil shall strive to mend.

The Atheist’s Art of Prayer, II

You wake from a dream of wildfire
to find it is your child ablaze with fever.
Her head rolls and she does not flinch
when you turn on the light.

She falls, twisting,
from the playground stair,
and screams and screams and
won’t be soothed.

Or even this: The radio
tells you that madness lives
in the hearts of men, that innocence
is no protection against it.

You don’t believe in God, any more
than you ever did. It is unwilling
as a ransom, but you cannot help
but mean now it when you say, Please.

(The Atheist’s Art of Prayer, I)