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.
The daughters of Lilith condemned To chance a gory laden death once again, All the while, standing vilified as they Who wear the mantle of Lilith’s power have always been. Tomorrow and all tomorrows after, The daughters of Lilith will rise With the glory and power of their mother, Breaking the chains men make Seeking to steal the power of Lilith residing in her daughters Thus, breaking their spirits to subservient acquiesce. But each of Lilith’s daughters will remind Such fearful little men Their mother was made before Eve And fashioned of the earth as well.
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.
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
Marshal forces Of the earth, moon, orbits of planets, Laws of time, All we hold mighty and true, Stop everything in its tracks, Turn it all back Before the start of any of it, Falling away, Marshaled from memory.
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.
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.