Saturday, February 24, 2018

The reporter's political malaise

Who drinks the tide and gives it back?
What voice is this that calls us in the wind?
Whose tears are these that drive the river's rush down to the sea/
How can it be that life moves on
When I am trapped in this dark cave, unable to see or move to
Where the light illuminates a path that might release me from the shadows?
Why can I not imagine myself seeing through your eyes,
     speaking from your heart
     feeling what you feel?
How can I understand what makes you do the things
Which make this universe howl?

Friday, February 23, 2018

An Artist's Exhortation

Collect them all:
take all the personalities
you've gathered through the years --
the timid and the bold, the youthful and the old,
the artist and the writer, the fearful and the fighter,
the flake, the organizer, the foolish and the wiser,
and give them each a brush, a palette knife or sponge,
and let each choose a color of her own.
Invite them to your studio
to speak their truth in color, line, and shape across the canvas.
Stand back, controlling mind,
and give voice to all the passions that you carry in your soul!

Remembering Eston

Cleaning out the garage,
we found an ancient typewriter,
the one my father found at a garage sale
and then gave our girls for Christmas.
Prying apart its frayed and fabric-covered case, we found,
still wrapped around its roller,
the one letter my 9 year old had typed,
its faded words a slash across the page:
"Dear Eston, I am sorry that your sick"
and then it all comes back,
the sly and secret glances as we sat
and listened to the futile machinations of our boss;
the eyerolls and the gestures,
and that moment, when I helped create your catalog,
and you looked up and said,
"You know I'm gay, right?"
I replied, "You know I'm married,"
and we grinned; that sense of connection
you can feel with another was so strong,
despite the fact that you were black and I was white,
that you smoked and drank while I abstained,
that you were gay and I was straight,
that you were male, a priest, and single,
while I was just a woman with a job,
a husband, and 2 kids.

We decided we were sisters,
so when you dropped the phone
and it clattered to the floor
in the middle of our conversation
as you collapsed and the medics
had to break down the door
and the blood, oh the blood,
and we discovered that your brain had been invaded
I could only hurt,
and sit there in that awkward chair
(there's always one or two in hospital rooms)
typing on my laptop as your light dimmed, and
exchanging anxious glances with your ex,
who came to care for you in your last days.

As your words grew rare, and rarer still,
fading into the sheets,
I learned you'd been abusive,
and that he'd loved you anyway
(perhaps because? who knows)
and that confession that you made
holding our white hands in your brown,
honored the priestly in us both.
We watched your skin grow dry and gray,
stretched tight across your broken skull,
and finally, bereft of language,
still you gripped our fingers:
and just before I had to leave
a tear, a single tear, slid down your cheek
to let us know you were still there,
behind the skin, below the thin white sheets,
below the collar that you could no longer wear,
we still were sisters,
and when you died I cried.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Floundering in multiplicity

Driving in the city,
after so many months in rural isolation,
I am floundering in multiplicity:
so many stories, so many lives,
so many little shops to be managed,
each with its bickering employees,
and merchandise that needs to be ordered and displayed;
each with its owner, paying taxes, rent, and salaries,
and worrying that customers won't come...

So many buses, filled with faces, all unique,
all on their way from lives I cannot know
to somewhere else they want or need to be --
and what is that? Imagination churns
and still my car is inching its way
down the dark gray ribbon, threaded yellow;
pausing at each stoplight to make way for other people
in other cars, or walking, who are also on their journeys
to whatever they will see and do today;
stars in their trajectories,
spinning, drifting, in and out of vision,
cluster briefly and and then hurtle through
each other's orbits, seeking other spaces, other places,
leaving traces, bright
or fading into night...

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Missing herons

I saw a heron yesterday --
painted on a canvas, hanging on a wall,
glimpsed through a store window --
and keep thinking of the herons
on the beach I used to walk,
and the reams and reams of photos that I took.
Their tiny feathers, fluttering in the wind,
their ungainly legs,
straight, or bent at the knees,
their distinctive stiletto beaks,
stabbing into the water, lifting
wriggling fish to swallow in a gulp,
their massive wings and graceful flight,
the harshness of their cry,
and something in me,
terrified of trying to paint the real,
is aching to recreate those memories on canvas;
bold strokes and thin, all clustered
on the right side of the page
to declare the presence -- no, return --
of the heron, absent now from my daily view
(having moved into the forest);
to fill the void on the canvas
and my empty field of vision
with their raucous, guttural cries.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Two paths

Once again I'm caught between
what was and what will be,
two different paths, one winding down
and one that's gearing up
to cut the other off before
it dies its natural death --
like putting a pet to sleep before
its time because we cannot bear to watch
it stagger blindly to its grave.

When to stay, and when to go --
the perennial choice we all must make
in every challenging situation, fight or flight --
which do we choose, and how can we anticipate
the fallout of decisions made: the roads
diverging in the wood, the ones we travel by
will always split: no path is ever smooth, or true,
and still we walk, and watch, but where our focus lies --
our feet, the trees we pass, the path ahead, the sky above --
might easily determine our decisions. Where to look?
What to see, or to avoid, or to embrace --
it's all a mystery to add zest to the journey.

Friday, February 16, 2018

I cannot watch

I cannot watch the news.
Not that I have wanted to,
since the moment I gave birth --
when suddenly I became aware
each person in each story is now, or was, a child,
whose parents cringe, or wail,
at the tragedy befalling them --

But these days it grows harder still,
with children killing children
using weapons they'd have never touched
but for the millions those who build them
give the makers of our laws.

My horror, that more than half the people
in this place I call my country
believe this is the way that things should be
knows no depths,
and will carry me into the dark
unless I close my eyes and do not watch the news.