ONE WEDNESDAY AFTERNOON IN MAY

Rain, the first good soaking since March.
Just this morning, I set  zinnias and petunias
in the deep dry ground, under the heavy sky, hoping.

Later, in the house, with the rain falling
steady past the kitchen window, while
I waited for banana bread to bake,

the phone rang.  It was a farmer I know
who called to say that the pregnant onion
I gave his wife years ago had a flower on it.

That was all, he said.  He just wanted me to know.
His corn was planted, hay fields seeded,
the onion had a flower.  That was all.

May 19, 1999

ON NOTICE

This time, I will not hide.
I am waiting for you,
ready with yellow flowers,
with clear water and a red bird,
with white paper and a lamp.
This time, you will not succeed.

Now I know the words,
I know the tune.  I have been
singing all day long.  My hair
smells like apples.  My hands
are stained with currant juice
and mud.  Do you think

you can break in again?
I have collected all your keys
and all my windows are open.
Did you see the moon last night?
I have nothing you can destroy
and everything I have is yours.

One of the  April prompts:  “put an enemy on notice”

THE SPIRIT OF GOD

It hatched the singularity
as if it were an egg,
haunted the wilderness,
twisted prophets’ tongues.
Like a rain of gold
it filled a virgin’s womb.
Fire, wind, a dusty dove–
some say it overturned the world.

One Sunday when Betty was a girl
she peeked into the Holy Roller church
and saw her neighbor—
she made us donuts on Saturdays,
dyed her hair with butter-color–
anyway, she was rolling down the aisle
and everybody was clapping and jabbering
some lingo I couldn’t make out.

That’s a pretty rare thing
in Vermont, Betty and I agreed.
We have a spirit here, yes,
but more like a river in thaw,
ripe tomatoes,
or that first blinding snow.
It doesn’t run its mouth, or roll.

Do you have that noisy kind?
Do you want it?
And what in the world
would you do if you had it?
Even the charismatic Paul complained:
     What’s the point 
      if nobody understands?

NON-DISPARAGEMENT AGREEMENT

~after David Weinstock

If you won’t tell how I cried,
I won’t tell how you left.
You won’t tell my raging, either,
how I blamed you for everything:
my sister’s dying, the terrorists,
war, cancer and pain, blindness,
stupidity.

So you won’t tell
how I slammed doors, broke goblets,
made a fool of myself every time
I remembered. And I won’t tell how
quiet you were, how you wouldn’t
turn back when I called.

I won’t tell
of the blank, the emptiness
of the faceless winter sky
with its perfect stillness of stars,
the hollowness of the laughter
at feasts, the blandness of Rilke
and Bach.
You mocked me
with happinesses, with sunrises
and hymns, but I won’t tell.
You won’t tell how I tried,
and later, how I stopped trying,
believing as fervently in your absence,
and I won’t tell

how it amazes me
that people still fall in love,
that somebody in that shabby
brown house practices Beethoven’s
piano sonatas with all the windows open,
that strangers dig through the rubble
with bare hands, over and over,
trying to pull strangers back to life.
And especially I won’t tell

how you returned,
how the stories went on,
how the grass grew
green again and again after the snows,
the days lengthened, the chicks hatched
and the moon rose in a thin
white shard.

APOLOGIA FOR VITA SUA–Another April Poem

I was born breech.  This
explains everything.
I have the power to heal others
by walking on them.
Although I am a vampire,
you’d never know it.
I am harmless.
It isn’t catching.

Languages come easy to me:
I speak a few that no one knows.
Often I awaken, singing,
or playing a small flute
kept under my pillow
for that purpose.
All my clothes are purple,
and all my curtains red.

My friends say I am
effervescent, spacey, ardent,
cool, and childlike.  I become
hysterical under duress.  I share
these traits with Nero, Mick
Jagger, Hitler, Diana Ross,
Gene Wilder, Prince, and Cher.

DANCING THE MAY

A bright afternoon, the sky blue
that not so long ago
was full of rain.  A thrush or two
sings from a bush.  Cold water flows
down from the dam.  Through
the air, the scent of earth.  And so
the people gather and agree
to dance the May around the tree.

The old women know just what to do:
weave the ribbons tight and high,
bind the lovers, ease the pattern,
dance and bend and sing and sigh,
dance to live and dance to die,
dance Earth in her complexity,
touch and listen, taste and see.

In and out the dancers go–
stiff and awkward, graced and easy,
solemn, laughing, nimble, slow,
careful, gentle, neighborly,
elders, youth and children twirling by.
If there is a door, this is the key.

Yet here the ribbons bulge oddly and uneven–
something out of line,
out instead of in, the wrong shoulder, counterturn.
The old women nod,
Even so.  The dance goes on.

What is woven here will stay.
Who knows what the year will bring?
Death and sorrow, flee away!

Come into the wood today,
dance ‘round our Maypole in a ring.

Thus once again, we dance the May.