Monday, April 30, 2012

Volunteer tulips

Hard not to see yourself
in a field of daffodils,
to sigh as petals sag and then
grow crisp with age;
to watch that golden yellow
tan like ancient leather,
begin to crack and shred...

I prefer to identify instead
with the volunteer tulips;
sparks of red in the flaxen field
that grow larger as they age,
petals swelling into muchness,
reaching out to embrace the sun,
then curling down to fall away –
none of this dying on the vine for me.

They lie on their backs
in the muddy spaces between the leaves,
swollen petals blushing, fading,
crooning robust ditties
as the daffodils count their wrinkles
in the mirror of the sky.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Blossoms of fear

I'm staring at your face --
so beloved,
so familiar now,
and listening as the words speed by --
melanoma --
each carrying
its brace of threat,
potential pain
blended with
a hint of punishment
for a life well-lived,
for time spent
dozing in the sun
when there may have been
work to be done

(I always so admired that; your willingness to step away and rest)

-- and tiny imperfections,
never seen before
begin to loom and grow,
blossoms of fear,
echoing in small bursts of feeling
from deep within my chest.
"I guess my body's breaking down," you say
and somewhere there's a flower screaming,
whether at the inevitable droop of petals
or at the scissors, or the knife -- I cannot say,
my eye so caught
by that one blackened anther
and all that it suggests
may lie ahead...

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Thoughts on listening to a public meeting

People assume,
when you live on an island,
that nothing is gritty there;
that graffiti is something
confined to the city;
that neighborly squabbles
rarely happen
and never lead to violence.

even the people who live here assume
that the most important thing
is to look nice,
not just, I mean, to look good,
but to look like you're a nice person -- you know --
Rational. Competent. Considerate.
Even when you are feeling nothing of the kind.

Listening to your carefully measured tones,
I sometimes miss
the cold occluded hills of New England
where people spoke their minds and raised their voices,
snarled when they were angry
and called a spade a spade  --
then helped you out of the ditch
when your car got stuck,
inviting you home for a cup of hot chocolate.

I wonder: can we ever truly forgive, or love,
if we don't admit to our anger;
pour it out, like the tide
that rushes into the lagoon at the end of the day,
and then -- also like the tide --
allow it to roll out again?
If there's a lesson learned, living here,
it's surely that the tide, once in, will always leave again,
carrying with it what it will
and bringing something new when it returns...

I sit and watch you hold it in for the camera,
hear the venom surging
beneath your honeyed voices;
(the ancient dukes of Venice, erecting barricades
to hold the rising sea at bay)
soothing, stroking, taming the fuming beast
until it seeps into the ground,
poisoning the very soil on which we stand;
(the piazza is sinking lower,
the acqua alta sirens sound;
we walk on elevated platforms
which give us the illusion
that we stand on higher ground.)

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Hearts preserve us

I've been thinking
for some time now
that the secret
to a good meditation session
was to feel it in my heart  --
which means, when the cat insisted
on sitting on my chest,
I felt particularly connected
to the Universe...

Today, however,
the cat was sleeping on my blanket
and I hated to disturb him;
I took it as a good sign
that I could feel his heart
beating next to mine,
even from several feet away.

But then today's meditation
(this is a first, because it was the middle of the day)
was frequently interrupted
with text messages from my daughters
(both have had concerns
these last few days)
and I found that little noise
my phone makes when they write
is every bit as connected to my heart
as the purring cat.

It is as if we're all in the same boat,
and the heart lies, coiled and waiting,
ready to reach out to each
with the promise of love and safety;
as if that heart connection
preserves us all...

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Signs and wonders

For those who like to say
the world is made
of two kinds of people,
I would propose
a new division --
those who are superstitious,
and those who choose to ignore
the signs and wonders that abound
(and can you tell
by the way I put this
which side of this divide
I occupy?)

For why else --
at a time when, unbeknownst to me
(so far had I fallen)
I was longing for a lift of spirits --
would such an image
catch my thirsty eye,
demand I notice, grab my camera,
and then, acting on the information,
head up the stairs
(however much I need a lift,
I prefer to rise on my own steam);
finding (to my great joy) a friend,
thereby renewing that sense of connection
that restores my sense of unity
with mankind,
that sense which, when lost,
leaves each of us
aliens in a universe
not of our own choosing.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Late-blooming moon

sometime after midnight
to face the late night demons
I stumble toward the bathroom door
(left open just a crack)
and cast a near-sighted glance
through the curtained window.
What light is this
that peers between
the dark shapes
I know to be trees?
And if it is the moon,
why rising now, and here?
Shouldn't it be off to the left
and higher,
or not there at all?

I shake my head,
return to bed;
doze fitfully,
to rise again at dawn and find
the half-moon, high and glowing now
as if to say, "Like you, I started late,
and yet, you see what height I've reached:
don't give up hope --
you, too, could still ascend...

I shake my head again,
shake out all thoughts
of anything but now;
shake out the was, the could, the should,
and all the might becomes
creating space for is;
watch out the window, waiting
as presence slowly fills
this space beneath the trees,
wrapped in promise,
glowing like the moon.