Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Visitor

The old rebbe lay dying in his narrow bed,
face toward the sky.
High clouds became letters of light,
and thunder sounded on a distant hill.
The family changed his name then,
hoping to fool Death into looking elsewhere,
but the old man traced invisible letters with his breath.

Death came to him then,
not fooled by the name,
not concerned with tears.
Death came to see what the old man
had written in the air.
When he presented himself before the old man,
Death bowed low and respectfully.
"I saw your name in the sky,"
said Death, "and came calling on you,
as anyone would."

Tuesday, August 14, 2012


It never occurred to me that
getting rid of the cocoon meant
getting rid of both form AND substance.
It wasn't so bad losing my spleen, (who needs a spleen?)
or the extra kidney (key word: extra.)
But when I lost control,
and righteous indignation,
my certainty,
my youth---
I wondered if the losses were really necessary.
I wondered---
just how badly did I want those wings?

Sunday, August 12, 2012

The crack in everything

How many dawns have I seen? 
There was one in Tennessee over a bridge and a lake, seen from a canoe.
Another from a fishing pier in the Yucatan: 
so many dawns with water, and scattered sunshine. 
Some with dolphins.

One spring, Don and I spent a night behind the union hall
talking about the world and our hearts 
(mine wayward, his congenitally large)
and Oceans we might see. 

The sun rose that morning with no thunder. 
I didn't kiss him and there was no movement of earth or sky,
only clouds of exhaust from a nearby highway. 

And when he died not long after (oh yes—death and the sunrise)
that morning became the essence of all mornings in this world.
Mornings we sleep through.
Missed moments. 
People we ignore on the street. 
Poems we forget to write. 

So when I stop my car on a busy interstate to watch an eastern light,
You may shake your fists or honk as you will. 
I am learning to pay attention to this very dawn.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The Gift

Every child slides wet from the womb with a hidden gift,
this sweetling handing you
the dearest of little somethings they bring
for the new parents---
A birthday gift of sorts.

They hold out their need.

They give you their ravenous,
need for everything.

Food, love, warmth, information, toenail clippers,
hair-ribbons, shoe-laces, car insurance--
They need it now.
They need it from you.

This gift is not given lightly.
Do not despise what they give you--
with their untouched fingers,
their curled up arms,
new from a nine-month stint in the cave.
They hold out your salvation.

They hold out to you the only thing
your Lord every really asked you
to give to Him.