Originally written for Sammi Scribbles Weekend Writing Challenge- Using Question in exactly 84 words but I didn’t get back to edit it down until today.
Questions hang in the air
Like heavy coastal fog
On cool autumn mornings
Eternal questions of humanity:
All the whys, the wonderings--
Never answered prayers--
Laying pressed between the
Pages of a book like brown,
Having lost their sentiment.
Speak the differences
Among roses, weeds, wildflowers—
For inconsequential questions.
Could sense of counting
Out the hours be sliced
Like blood, blooming meat
To find truth absolute
Like high priestesses of old,
Scry the answer
In a blood filled bowl?
The widow colors the sky
The ground, the trees,
The winds with cold and heat
Of all that cannot be spoken,
Of spirits tethered to stone.
You may never know she is there.
She may wear the red nose.
She may laugh with you.
She may hold out her hands to help.
All so you are not overwhelmed by her presence.
She hides within her weeds.
Sometimes she hides within the willows.
She may smell of pomegranates
Or roses at midnight,
The scents betray her presence.
But you will not see her arms and hands
Covered in thorns and trickling with blood,
The tears of her body, dripping away,
Speaking in tongues no one can understand,
As she stands alone.
She sees history through a broken prism
Of her words never strong enough to bind
Love to prayers weighted with magic enough
To fly straight to God’s ear, to be heard,
To be answered, to raise flowers of miracles.
In the end, the widow is left,
Singing colors of grief.
When all the praise singers have left her
In the muddy soil leavings of wicked tongues,
Gone on to daily lives, the day to day,
The widow stands,
Singing colors of grief,
Covered in thorns.
That is me
I am of my own making.
Rather than ignore, pretend
A pretty sky for my façade—
I chose to make of myself,
A real thing, a living thing,
A patchwork quilt of scars:
Sown together scraps of terror,
Of pain, of suffering,
Of the dark wells into which I fell,
Of the dark wells I clawed and crawled,
bloodied fingered, nails torn off,
Out from the depths,
Of the wealth of human darkness
I have known, of my failures, of my triumphs—
Follow the stitching with your fingers
If you wish to understand
The quilt that I am
Though the batting be made
Of my tears, my blood, my skin,
My scars, bits of my spirit, bits of my soul—
The quilt that I am
Can offer you more
Than any villager can.
Consequences of time
Climb and mount
About the throat,
Following the path
Of arteries and veins,
And as if by magic,
Enter into the blood
To provide a dram bit
Of bitter choking poison
To the will of moving blood
That slows and stills
In the knowing.
I wait for spring—
When days run long,
While hope emerges
Green from the earth
Warmed by a sun
Who knows the spell
A gentle warmth brings
With a smoothness of breath
Taken in the calmness of colors
Basking in the light of a day
Nourished by winter’s ashes.
Peace, an elusive thing you are,
I have known you in fleeting moments
Would that I could see the whitest of doves,
Feel the lightest, glancing touch of feathers,
Hold the olive branch for a moment—
Yet, how can I partake of such a luxury when—
When children’s bellies bloat in hunger
When those of one religion kill those of another
When those of one skin hate and kill those of another
When men rape, beat, kill women
When children and women are bought and sold
When humanity seeks dominance over all the earth
At the cost of future generations?
Yes, I want to see the white dove with the olive branch fly—
To know the world is at peace
To know my daughter lives in that peace
To know all the children of world will grow knowing only good
Then death could take my hand
And I would willingly go
The magnolia tree is dead or dying
Said the experts at the nursery
Which planted it.
No green leaves hang upon it,
Only these brittle, brown things
Cling to its limbs still.
The experts give me two things,
Free of charge of course,
To try to resuscitate my magnolia.
The experts tell me everything to do
Over the next eight weeks,
But not to worry, if it all doesn’t work,
The tree will be replaced. It’s guaranteed.
A guarantee I never thought I’d need.
I did everything right:
Watering and fertilizing,
Watering and fertilizing,
Factoring in all the rain—
Yet here it stands dead or dying
In this place you never knew.
Like with you, in the place you knew,
I did everything I knew to do—
Replace the cooking pots and pans with stainless,
Only organic foods, red wine the only alcohol,
Broke all the cigarettes in two,
Quit my job to care for you—
Until the fourth time it returned,
Spread to the lungs and liver,
You wanted your cigarettes and alcohol back.
How could I argue? Say no to that?
Yet even then—
I found you cigarettes with no additives, organic tobacco too.
Until January, our magnolia bloomed as you lay dying,
When at midnight a storm blew through,
Minutes later, you died
And the magnolia shed its blooms.
So here now, in this new place,
I planted a magnolia in memory
Of what was, what was not,
Of what could have been, should have been,
Of what would have been
If I possessed the magic to shape shift
Into the one you most wanted.
And now, this tree in this new place
Stands dead or dying.
But I will do as the experts say:
Spray from top to bottom for disease,
Shock the roots every other week
Until mid- November, hoping to bring it back,
Bring it back from the edge of death.
If I can’t, the nursery will replace it
With another magnolia tree.
Yet I must think on that.
In this place, in this soil, perhaps
A magnolia is not meant to be.
I may ask them to replace it
With a different tree.
For it could be,
That here and now,
Magnolias are no longer meant for me.
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