Questions

Image is my own

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,
Dried flowers—forgotten,
Having lost their sentiment.

Speak the differences
Among roses, weeds, wildflowers—
Inconsequential answers
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 Sings

Image courtesy of CanStockPhoto.com
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.






Dying Magnolia Tree

Image is my own
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—

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.


Bouquets of the Ramshackle

https://amanpan.com/category/eugis-prompts/

With ramshackle shards
Of heart, soul, self
Falling away like the browned petals
Of a long-wilted bouquet,
We create a riotous noise
In ramshackle attempts
To find some connection.

Lumbering, awkward attempts
At reaching out to touch once again,
To replace, to freshen 
The brown wilted and missing parts
With new bouquets of spring
Whose stems sit in eternally
Fresh, clean waters.

We dream of a life lived
No longer ramshackle,
With no long-wilted bouquets
Of a past to haunt with falling petals,
But a life returning whole,
To move without noise
Through the world once again.

July

Image courtesy of O’Conner Mortuary

 

I’d nail all the windows in that month shut.

Board the place completely up.

All closed and shuttered,

Leaving it to the dust and rot.

July—the only summer month

I’d abandon

The month forced me to abandon you—

How is a starving  child forced to leave

A mother who sold herself

So the child could eat?

Thus, I cared for you

Until I had to reach out and close your eyes—

Then I dreamed

Dreamed–

I nailed the windows in every room shut

And I boarded up every room.

I took a hammer to that floor to ceiling avocado green tile

Of the kitchen tomb,

Shattering every single inch

Of mirror green shine.

I brought the garden hose in

And hosed down all our scars

Until yours and mine

Nearly disappeared.

Then I woke

And buried you

Under roses

In hot, steamy July

Shuttering you away

Until I thought there’d

Be nothing left of you.

But you are always here.

I pick the good of you

From the rubble,

See little bits of you

In each of your grandchildren.

I see bits of you in my daughter,

And our legacy is not only

One of scars.

Washed

At the Beach – Image by KL Caley

https://new2writing.wordpress.com/2021/06/03/writephoto-beach/#like-5743

( An older poem written in 2015 while in Provincetown, MA.  Revised for this week’s writephoto challenge.)

At sunrise over water,

        Remembering as if in a dream  

The child and you and me

As we stood by a sea

Half a world away.

Both of you now baptized differently by my tears.

 

And for and from you,

I am left with things neither given

Nor felt in years,

 Linked by all the fears

To form over a decade of a life

Lived like a stranger

In my own shrinking skin.

 

I have stood

Since the dawn

At this ocean’s edge

Waiting, waiting.

And now at noon

The rain begins.

Fierce pelting blows

Washing me clean

Of all I know

Or dare to dream.

 

For living continues

Within my own skin

 

Baltimore

Image courtesy of Johns Hopkins Medicine

Pulled my anchor from this harbor
Years ago.
Yet the current pulls me back,
Some irritant speck,
Yet to yield a pearl,
In the soul,
Some rough edged
Needless need chafes away
Until confession is made
And a pilgrimage to graves
Must be paid—

There is no why to this–
This steel wrought laundry list
To be run down and checked through

A visit, a meal eaten
At the landmark restaurant,
Where new owners chiseled hieroglyphics
over a history of years when
the landmark lived across
A narrow brick paved street
And my family lived upstairs,
Erasing my mother’s sacrifice
Of bloody fetal tissue,
My fraternal twin,
On the bathroom floor there
While I hung on to be born.
But such bloody sacrifice
Doesn’t sell cheeseburgers,
Greek salads, and over easy eggs,
A fairytale of family ownership-
Sells well and makes for spots
On reality television shows.

A drive by the childhood home,
Sentimentality at its highest,
Revisit the torture chamber
It became—
A wooden yardstick and when it broke,
A metal one I had to buy to be taken
Across my back by a drunken mother
Until the skin broke open to bleed.
.
Why the drive by?
Who the hell knows?
When all I’d like to see
Is it all disappear—

Then the statue of Christ
In Hopkins Hospital lobby, a must see.
Where I stood as a teen
Confessing the darkest
Thing upon my soul—
A part of me wishing
My mother had died
In that surgery of fifteen hours
The other part thanking Jesus
she had lived.

Then the graves,
To place some flowers,
Talk a bit to the air,
Turn my soul inside out
To find it dusty and dirty again.
We can think our souls clean
Until turning them inside out—
That is where we find the grime
Of all the living done.

I visit my brothers,
The man who was my real father,
Then on to the man I thought was,
And then my mother,
The saint she was,
The monster she became.
At her grave, my soul aches the most,
Tweezing thorns left from her old rose bushes and my own,
Turning itself inside out,
Leaving all the grime and dirt behind,
Or so it feels.

Then on to visit with what is left of the living.
And though, I love the living,
There is little, so little–
To charm me into staying.
But the currents, the tides
Of some blood element,
Like an ancient memory,
Bring me back
From time to time.

This is Baltimore—
for me.

 

Song of My Sisters

Image courtesy of Storytrender.com

A daily battle with memories,

Offering emptiness,

Even the sparkle of gem like happiness,

Leaving small smiles for the moment—

Before tears begin.

Standing separated

From the ashes and earth

We once kissed and touched so tenderly,

All we embrace now—air,

Some ephemeral being of memory

As voice and smile and laughter fade.

Some of us,

Too many, told too often,

By those once precious, counted family,

Our grief, less than, less meaningful,

Really nothing more than dust,

Containing no rawness of a bloody heart.

Thus, I voice, singing the lament

Of my sisters in widowhood,

As we wait for our souls to soar–

To take flight once again.

When each in her turn is ready,

Able to begin,

Renewed,

Emerging, uncurling, however slowly,

From our blanketing storm clouds of grief,

Wings wet, drying in the sun.

The Sixth New Year

The year ends with heavy rains

As if to wash us all clean

Of the leavings and grime.

 

Now, standing with each year

For each foot of earth

Between us forever—

I gather to me

Broken pieces of colored glass

And think of—

 

Just after midnight,

An early morning

Long before dawn—

The third day of a new year six years ago,

You left in blinding, flooding rains.

 

If only on this third day

Of this new year—

I could open the earth

And roll a stone away,

Bringing you back from under

This six feet of earth.

 

But I have neither the strength

Nor the talent

For miracles great or small

When most days

There is not enough

Left over to become

A mosaic of brokenness.