BIRTHDAY

BIRTHDAY

I wasn’t born yesterday.

~The Way of Mrs. Cosmopolite, T. Pratchett

 

I was born years ago in a snowstorm,

butt first, which explains my perspectives:

right is left, north is south, and so on.

There’s something, too, about winter,

blowing snow that blew itself

into my bones. There are things

you won’t understand

until you are so old

that no one alive calls you children.

The patterns, strangeness of passages,

the way the long corridor winds,

edged with fewer doors.

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NOTES FOR MY 50TH  HIGH SCHOOL REUNION

NOTES FOR MY 50TH  HIGH SCHOOL REUNION

 

Once I read Latin, long phrases from Caesar and Virgil.

Now I practice Polish, but only after dark.

 

Once I played the piano: Mozart, Debussy, Bach.

Now I play simplified Gershwin songs when no one is around.

 

Once I had a small vegetable garden.

Now it is a jungle of vines and weeds.

 

Once I fell in love with a warrior.

Some things never change.

 

Once there was no space for anything.

Now time stretches before me like the sea.

TIME IS A STRANGE THING

TIME IS A STRANGE THING

At times I get up in the middle of the night and stop all the clocks, all of them.

~Hugo von Hofmannsthal, from Die Rosenkavalier

 

She stops the clocks

to hear the silence

defined by their tick and chime.

One must not fear the time.

 

She stops the needle,

and feels the space beyond

that only the compass knows.

That’s the place she goes.

 

May 17, 2017

EQUANIMITY

Something happened back when I wasn’t

looking, or maybe I was looking and didn’t care.

Maybe it happens to everyone by a certain age,

or it doesn’t matter. Or it’s what is meant

by equanimity and it’s something to strive for

only I didn’t, or at least I don’t think I did,

and yet, maybe it’s the fruit of all that prayer,

the hours on the front step with my cup,

watching the sun come up, or set.

 

 

~Solstice 2017

CRANKY

CRANKY

 

The old women are cranky.

They turn, squeaking, resistant.

They like their routines:

coffee, silence, good bread.

What’s the point

of bad weather?

Of more books about childcare and food?

Those people in Washington—

well, what do you expect

if people stare at a screen all day?

Somebody has to make the bread

and wash the quilts

and feed the kids

and walk the dog.

Somebody has to remember

the reasons,

tell the stories,

sing the songs

everybody used to know.

LEAVES

LEAVES

 

The tree is dropping her leaves to save

herself for winter. She has nothing

to do with me. What’s the point in saving

things? The trees don’t.

Everything they need now

is underground. I will not be defined by

souvenirs. Between the pages of books

I no longer read, old leaves crumble to brown.

Memory is sepia.

Turn the leaves to ground.

VISIONS

VISIONS

 

Visions broke through at the strangest times.

When you were buying groceries, Jesus

appeared next to you at the meat counter.

When you were at a meeting, the coffee

in your cup turned to blood. Angels visited

you in the bathroom. Things like that.

But gradually—or was it suddenly?—

the visions ceased.

 

You returned to a holy place, a place

of first loves, of moonlight and water

and stones, where trees once breathed

redemption, where fireflies flickered

immortality,  where bells rang at midnight,

and though it was still pleasant,

nothing glittered through the veil.

Indeed, the veil itself was gone.

 

In the morning, you sit on the front porch

in your green chair to drink your coffee

and listen to the birds, or

you walk in the woods for a long time

by yourself, or you spend an afternoon

cleaning the kitchen, and nothing happens

but the sunrise and the birdsong, the green leaves,

the scent of rosemary on the windowsill.