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.
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.
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.
Caught in the evening downpour, I am washed clean of summer. Summer’s red rock, red dirt dreams Sluiced from me with this autumnal drenching. Morning greets me with a cool hand Of sunshine upon my brow. Autumn whispers of a harvest Under skies of bluest topaz. A clear, clean, honest reaping In days yet to be had.
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.
What would I learn Could I raise your bones From the earth? And like some ancient medicine woman Scatter them like runes to read Or use them in the making Of a sacred instrument To rattle next to my ear? What would their music tell me? Would their rhythms move me? Would there be some wisdom spoken? Hidden within the notes of rattled rhythms Of all your dried out unearthed bones Is there enough marrow left to have All my ancestors speak to me? Should I, in some ancient tribal ritual Of ancestral cannibalism, Ingest your ground bones Mixed with magic into an elixir Infused with your ancestral spirits, Be given the power of thunder And lightening that is your strength Earned by you through the ages? Is this how your spirits will travel through me Teaching me of all the earth and sky? Is there a way to know, to learn To hear all the secrets you deem I need, Need to know in this time, this place For this, this last chapter Of what I have left to me? My ancestors, for I have wasted Away pages and chapters, Squandered decades of the anthology You have written into me. Ancestors, speak to me, So I waste not the years Left to be written By your spirits into me.
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
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.
Walking through days--- There are too many left And not enough To let me forget. I walk into sunrises Into sunsets-- There are not enough Sunrises or sunsets left In life to let me forget And too many yet to live To live in remembering. I walk to gain forgetfulness. There are not enough miles, Not enough steps, Not enough earth To walk To bring About forgetfulness. I walk, seeking shelter From thunderstorms Yet they remind me. I walk, seeking exhaustion In the mountains Yet they remind me. I walk, seeking the healing of salt From ocean waters Yet they remind me. All speaking In whispers Of the earth’s remembrance. It all reminds me— The brilliant azure sky, The verdant green of forests, The primal roar of oceans, The Rorschach shape of clouds, The roil gray of storms— It all reminds me, Brings me back Nothing allows me to forget.