THE PLEASANTEST THING

THE PLEASANTEST THING

He can sing the last word of every line—

the swing song I sang to his father,

that my mother sang to me.

 

In his small world, the garden

is still green and the wideness

he sees is safe. “Turn up your toes,”

 

I tell him. And I push him

on the orange soles of his shoes

and he laughs. Later, we’ll have

 

lunch, and maybe he’ll take a nap.

I can protect him from bees,

from sunburn, from sharp knives,

 

from tumbling down the cellar stairs.

Not from overturning boats,

from hunger and guns. Pushing

 

the swing, singing away,

I think about grandmothers

lifting children above the waves,

 

breaking the last bread,

huddling behind the last wall.

Their strength, their tears.

 

What can they do

but hold tight and die too.

There is no fiercer love.

I WHO HAVE DIED

I WHO HAVE DIED

I who have died am alive again today.

~e. e. cummings

I have surrendered to the darkness

of loneliness, of foreign spaces.

 

Where did you go when you were afraid?

I sat on the kitchen floor and wept

 

for my golden house, the porch,

the rock in the meadow.

 

Broken butterflies predicted loss,

so many losses. And today

 

I live again. On New Year’s Night,

two owls flew over my head

 

in the dark garden. This morning,

there is snow. Again I live, again.

 

This was inspired by a lecture by Br. David Steindl-Rast  about the practice of gratitude.

POPPING JEWELWEED

POPPING JEWELWEED

 

I didn’t when I was a child. Dad showed me

how when I was well-grown. We were in Newport,

Lake Memphremagog, at my uncle’s camp.

Mist on the water—that water always

cold. Fish under the dock. The old canoes

pulled up on the shore, the brick fireplace

where we toasted marshmallows. The big jug

of drinking water brought from town. Sarah

and I went to Canada once, to buy

fireworks we smuggled back in a beach bag.

A long time ago. The camp is gone, Dad

and Uncle Colin, too. But this morning,

I popped jewelweed along a path I walk

now, by a river. Mist on the water.

April prompt #33

Your zip-drive has started talking to you. What is it saying?

Ray’s #3

JUST WONDERING

Why keep things, archive your intimacies?  . .

Losing things can sometimes gain you a space in which to live.

~Edmund DeWaal, in The Hare with Amber Eyes

 

What, precisely,

is the point

of saving

it all?

April prompt #21

AN ULTIMATUM

David’s #6

There was nothing she could do, but there was always the next thing to be done.

~Ursula K. LeGuin, in Tehanu

 

So many trees across the path.

Weeds in the garden.

A stone in my shoe.

The neighbor’s dog

while she’s in New York.

The mouse under the piano.

Those people in Burundi,

the others in their crowded boats.

The dishes in the sink.

Houseplants, catboxes.

What’s happening

to the ground beneath my feet.

The telephone again.

The way the wind

carries maple pollen.

My brother’s ransom.

Laundry on the line.

The size of my footprint.

Too many cookbooks.

Fresh nettles in the meadow.

Three white shirts.

A cracked windshield.

Five birthday cards.

The false importance

of money. The inevitability

of death. If you don’t do

something about it, I will.

April prompt #18

April prompt #18

HOW PEOPLE DRIVE

(with the possible exception of me and my friends)

Janet’s #2

 

As if the only reality is the car—

plastic and metal and fire

stealing air, breathing smoke,

machinery eating the sky.

 

As if there were no trees or stones,

no houses or gardens or barns,

no snow, no rain,

no mountains or moons.

 

As if that strange creature Time

could be warped by speeds

much less than the speed of Light.

 

As if all that matters is desire.

 

As if the fragile bones and skins and bloods

of squirrels and birds and deer and cats

and possums and skunks and porcupines

and raccoons are nothing but easy offerings.

 

As if every other way of moving is

suspect, self-righteous, inconvenient,

tedious, ridiculous,

invisible.

 

As if the road were not a way,

a passage,

a present

between two doors.

April Prompt #7

April #7

COMING HOME TO MOTHER’S DEATH BED:

THE HOTEL JUST OUTSIDE FLAGSTAFF

Janet’s #1–The Cheap Hotel

We drove all afternoon and into the night.

My God, Arizona is big.

 

Did we stop for supper?

I don’t remember.

 

Just that one road, on and on.

Mesas out there, black against the stars.

 

Beethoven’s ninth on the radio for awhile.

For some reason, I remember that.

 

Ode to Joy.

When we could not go on,

 

a motel with the desk next to the bar.

Pinpoints of light, nothing illuminated.

 

Carrying our bags through the parking lot.

What did that room look like?

 

It was dark.

We were on the road again before dawn.