Thursday, April 10, 2014

In this moment

I'd like to tell you, in this very moment the ground is shifting 
and my heart is spinning around the chandelier, 
that I hear an angel singing La Vie En Rose and
I understand every word though I speak no French 
and when the song ends, I actually do speak French 
to my husband dressed as a high-ranking Arab
soldier with a glossy belt and fancy shield 
and I can see the pyramids along the Nile.  
I would like to say that now, nothing will ever be the same.
Ahh but most moments are twins with identical words, 
left and right ears and eyes and hemispheres, 
getting on and off the same bus,
watching or ignoring identical sunsets, being as we are
in our habits not all that different from pigeons.
Not to say twin moments don’t have power--
beautiful and awful--
not to say they don’t bring tears, awe, platters of sweets.
Only to say they make the past near impossible to remember.
Only that it takes work to lift a moment from its trance
into those high places where clouds take shapes.
It takes thinking more like lunatics to begin a pilgrimage, 
to become a Roman Catholic, to take a hike with someone
who brings out the gypsy in us, to prove something to ourselves 
beyond a shadow of a doubt, to try another new thing.
I'v heard there are all-night bonfire parties on the beach,
that there are people who need our help, and if that’s
not your thing, there are “laughing at death” societies. 
I want to sing now: Moon river, wherever ever you’re going, 
I'm going your way.

Saturday, April 5, 2014


My mother leans on her walker, from her arm
dangle four knitted snowflakes.
Nice placemats! I say.

She shrieks as if the word placemat scalds her. 

You like them?  -- in her voice such hope.
Yes I do. Only half a lie.  
The knitting's well done, the pattern believable,
and I can feel the red in my gut.

But the snowflakes stay in the bottom 
drawer for decades
until last night when I place them 
under plates at my party. 
These doilies are lovely, someone remarks and
I want to jump from my chair and dance 
for my mother and for this guest who deserves
these doilies more than I but I just 
can't part with them. 

Friday, April 4, 2014

Hard to see

Hard to see

Gray sky, gray city, this gray hill where 
now a siren rips through fog, 
some new calamity below. 
Rain juices down my face. Hard to see a path, 
harder not to think of ash, the grave, 
harder not to look over to gray Hayward 
from this gray slope 
on Fairmont Ridge, harder 
not to think of their graves on the next hill (my mother and father)
in that muck across from Kmart, so very far from their 
birth homes, in Hayward where no one knows them, 
where they came to be less alone with each other. 
Will you ever visit our grave? asks she who hates graves 
but overcomes her animus on Christmas with a small tree 
for my father, because she honors him dead more than alive, 
because now he can do no more harm,  because death 
is a big price to pay for forgiveness.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

A dilemma

My mother must know it will kill him 
(it was clear he was dying anyway)
when she pushes my father into the plane
to California, 3000 miles from home
and rings my door bell.
He does not want to be standing on 
the doorstep of his least favorite 
child, so hunched and plucked, 
his dry, stiff wings closed behind him,
but he is still breathing and my heart 


Wednesday, April 2, 2014

How can I, a woman walking here, so afraid 
of illness, of slow death--of any death, of any illness--
learn what I must learn to endure another night in the cold?
Such thoughts sit in the back of my scalp and look straight out 
through my two brown eyes, through their smooth wall fountains,
into this morning’s halogen light, and here among the tall 
lean and lighted trees, I hear the perfect stillness gently slit 
by the point of a whistle--kik ik ik ik kik ik ik ik--
from a hooked beak high above, from the swish 
of long wings beating through the branch. 
What serenity in a world where everything must die.
An important lesson no doubt and my soul longs for it.
So I look again how calmly the wide-winged 
whistler flaps herself without passion from branch to branch,
into the lean and cold unknown. And suddenly 
I am a woman who flies along from tree to tree 
on her morning walk.