Each new year brings Now this garden grief Nourished by regret Each year, this day, here— Standing, kneeling, sitting—I Spend tears, words, wishes All meaningless now, In the barren garden grief Flowers never bloom Seven years gone now-- Nothing roots, though it has tried, In the garden grief inside
First published in Pinecone Review’s Be Proud With Pride edition
The woman lied to herself. Said life is not had without hope, Believing hope resided within her chest Just under the bones, As she remembered the taste Of fresh apricots, The sweetness of their juices Bursting in her mouth, The texture of their pulp Playing against her tongue— She remembered— Fresh apricots During the weeks of summer In the year the earth awoke, Stretching and yawning, Turning as if To bring sunrises closer And hold sunsets dear— That summer the girl, Holding beating hope, Emerged from the cracks forming In the left side Of the woman’s chest. Thus, the woman who lied About holding onto hope, Crumpled and died, Shriveled like the over-ripened apricots On the ground beneath the tree in your yard. The girl, holding hope, emerged Laughing with joy at all the smiling Universe seemed for once to offer up In the taste of apricot flesh And the sweet juice that quenched thirst After years of waiting want. The earth tilted back, turning once again, Withdrawing from sunrise and sunset. Then the apricots were gone. Picked, fallen to the ground, Nibbled by birds and squirrels. The girl, who held hope, Shrank down, curling into a fetal position, Within the dead woman who lied About having hope and who Was now revived, resuscitated, Like a cannibal feeding off a beaten enemy Of faith, of pain, of living hope, By the now shrunken head like girl, Who had held beating hope That could beat no longer As the revived woman remembered Always— The taste, the feel of the flesh of fresh apricots.
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.
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.
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.
Todays prompt: “waterfall wishes”
She will never fall to earth again After soaring among the stars, The planets a blur. No. No. She will never swim In the deepest oceans, Cavorting with dolphins and whales. No. No. Never will her soul fly, Brushing shoulders with angels, Their wings touching upon her face. No. No. Never these things. Never these dangerous things again. Never allowing illusions to gain sway. No. No. She will plant her feet firmly in the ground. Her heart cemented in her chest. Yes. Yes. That once mighty waterfall Has slowed to a trickle As there no longer exist Any waterfall wishes.
If I could gather a handful of dawn and a handful of sunset,
I’d cut and polish each handful into gems
For you to keep,
To take out and wear as you would wish,
For there are no stones of value containing beauty enough
To give you but these that are not true stone—
Yes, a handful of sunset,
A handful of dawn—
Their beauty ever constant,
Yet ever changing—
The only things containing beauty enough
I first wrote this a few years ago after reading Elizabeth Bishop’s work once again. Well, after revisiting Mary Oliver and gaining familiarity with Pablo Neruda this summer, I once again returned to Bishop’s work and then had to re-watch Reaching for the Moon. So I decided to dig this one out and tweak it and revise.
In this thing called losing, Bishop said we become masters And that losing isn’t a disaster. No, not a disaster. Losing socks and such stuff. I’ve lost earrings, bracelets, Expensive ones too, didn’t care Beyond maybe a minute or two, And never was it a disaster. And no pain beyond a stab of nostalgia Did I have upon saying goodbye To three houses and two cities, And never did I feel it a disaster. And yes, it was no disaster To bury my mother, A father who really wasn’t, The man who really was, First one brother, then the other, Then lastly, a wife. With each, my body and soul Savaged by a catastrophic hurricane, yes. But no, no disaster. No disaster is it, I’ll admit, For a tiny bit of soul to erode As I buried each. But nothing, nothing did I ever master. Except, maybe this— I did not look for them- Looking to forget them Since they were gone, Emptied of this earth. No, I did not look to forget While driving home In darkness under a full moon Lighted with regret Of a new unfamiliar scent. Yet the swirling of this sad scent Is no, no real disaster. No real disaster is it— That I look to forget A lost return now. A return to life Captured, fleeting, lost-- Filled with a scent Of hope or a fool’s thought— Matters not but now lost. And in this thing Called losing, In which I am well-schooled, As are we all, I have tried to make an art, To make an art of all this loss. Yes, this may be no real disaster, But Bishop lied. There is no art in losing, No art at all, That I can find to master.
Is this what you, indeed, wish?
The feel of some bold mystic chaos
Contained within the fire of kisses
Traveling along the boundaries
Where lived an identity
You lost long ago—
To feel that chaotic fire
Burn away the identity
You wear today—
Feel passionate softness
Twist within and around
Leaving bruises unseen
And you undone
In twisting mystic
Chaos of fire.
Haunting seen In darkening clouds Of chrysalis dreams Where wanting, Where desiring, Haunt seen Cease existing-- In this capturing No ring pierced through Butterfly wings Dripping still From newly emerging Dreams not tended.