Dear Robert Frost

Image is my own. Taken at the Hockney/ Van Gogh exhibit

VJ’s Weekly Challenge: roads – One Woman’s Quest II (onewomansquest.org)

Before this moment,

All roads coalesced into one,

The present, the now.

Then,

Seeing this wall of roads,

I cannot help but ask

Where each road would have, could have

Led.

Different places, people–

Certainly, yes.

The mind swirls,

Possibilities,

A Tilt-A-Whirl—

A daughter lost?

The fetal tissue of a son not lost?

A different daughter born?

A heart not broken by cancer?

All the rewinds and fast forwards

Of a life of lived down different roads

Of different choices made along each way–

All the differences of each win and loss

And every other thing implied by this wall

And dear Robert Frost—

 

The choices I’ve made

Gave me this now,

This daughter,

For whom I would give my life,

Rather than trade.

Beauty of His Work

Image is my own

High in the air,

Buffeted by the strong winds,

Yet navigating the narrow beam

With a grace and strength of Baryshnikov 

Or the great Nureyev

As I, his audience awed by his performance,

Stood and watched,

Wondering if everyone who looked

Could see this man’s artful grace

As he seemed to defy all laws of gravity,

Bending to hammer,

Leaping to rise,

Prancing to walk.

 

Then bending once again,

Hammering, rising, walking.

Never thrown off balance

By the winds or heavy hammer

Or the weighty leather tool belt,

Carrying the long nails off to the side.

 

Who else saw the grace and strength

In the rhythm of the dance

This man did perform

In the building of that house—

A dance that held something,

Some paternal element of David

As he danced entering Jerusalem—

 

How many would see the beauty in the performance of his work?

How many would only see a Hispanic male and question his legal status?

 

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.

 

Periphery

Image is my own. Taken at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

VJ’s Weekly Challenge: peripheral – One Woman’s Quest II (onewomansquest.org)

Periphery

The whitest teeth

Of one brother’s smile.

Hair so black

The curls shine blue,

My mother’s hair

A forehead with a line

Of slicked back black hair,

My real father.

Clark Kent glasses,

The frames of the coke

Bottle bottom glasses,

My other brother.

The whisper of an accent

mingles with scent of Old Spice cologne,

the man I thought was my father–

Fleeting things—

Such imagery captured briefly

In the corner of the senses

Some strange trick of heart and mind—

The mind’s empty, missing parts perhaps

Playing the trickster

With edges of the senses,

So we think we see, hear, smell

The seeds of things we grieve.

Images of the dead

Cannot be real.

Such things as ghosts

Do not exist.

These ephemeral flashes

Of the senses share no breath,

No grace of God gives life

To them as they melt away

Before a half breath

Can be taken.

So, I stood

Still

Afraid to breathe

Afraid to blink

Or let the tears

That gathered fall

When I saw

A lion’s mane of hair

As you tilted your head back

To smile—

For six years—

I had not seen you

Felt you

At all–

Until

I stood

Gazing at Van Gogh’s

Field with Irises near Arles–

Your favorite flower—

Irises–

and art you loved—

the first time

in six years,

I feel you nearby—

I am stilled—

Until

Someone else moves

Beside me,

A distraction,

And you are gone.

But you linger with me

Like a wonderful and strong

perfume

Whispered Tales

Image courtesy of Pinterest.com

A phoenix rises in flames

From out the left side of my chest

With feathers of flame yet,

Set free to fly where it wills.

 

One day, it will return,

Nuzzling deep inside my chest again,

All the ashes gone,

All flame having died away,

Its fiery colored feathers

Whispering, singing to my blood

Of beauty seen,

Of tantalizing things touched,

Of all the air breathed, smelled, felt,

Of the sounds soft and harsh heard

All along the way around the earth.

 

Through the whispered tales

Of those fiery feathers

My blood will tell me

Where I am to go.

 

The Work of Spring

image courtesy of anoregoncottage.com

I clipped away dead branches

From the living shrubs today.

Not an easy thing,

But a thing that must be done.

Strange it is how dead things

Will cling so tightly to the living

As if to squeeze

The last remaining bits of life away

And thus, have company in death and dying.

There is yet more to do

So only the living things are left

To flourish in the spring sun.

Decision on a Birdfeeder

image courtesy of publicdomainpictures.net

 

I hesitate in remembrance

as if the fates would choose

a day of gray and leave me there,

as if a blossoming could be had upon

a second visitation to any day.

 

The creamer clouds disperse and swirl

in my extra strong coffee

like memories of things I wanted–

never had, never attained

all those years ago.

 

Stirring the coffee still,

I stare out the kitchen window.

Decide against a bird feeder

filled with black oil sunflower seeds.

I do not want cardinals here.

People say cardinals are spirits

of those you’ve lost come to visit you—

No.  I want no cardinals here.

No spirits of the lost to visit or say hello.

No twittering or chittering away.

No vibrancy of color outside this window.

No.  Not here.  Not in this place.

 

I’d rather this be a spiritless place,

A virgin place, void of spirits, void of touch—

 

At least for a time

 

 

 

Emerge

Image is my own

 

Days lengthen,

The sun returns

In an earnestness

We have not seen in months.

Not yet does the earth send warmth

Enough to climb through the soles of our feet–

Not yet warmth enough to creep onward up our legs,

Stretching, reaching toward our souls,

Where I carry the wish I have of you

One day, perhaps—

Perhaps, I may find the courage to grasp

In an aching, aging hand the bone to break

And set loose the wish I have of you.

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.