Friday, September 30, 2011

In His Earth

The three of us slid out of Claire's car, I the only one unused to the growing plot,
The rising action, of this place.

He emerged and met us, slapped their hands, and shook mine,
and we stood in a square, talking.
Light, sweet conversation mellowed us as we faltered into words, the creamy air of the last stirring day of September awing us a little. It was almost as if our feet were planted under those old trees, by the silver car.

In time the word was spoken and we made a beginning, taking hoes in hand and two of us baring four feet to weed between the rows. We shifted irrigation hoses, spread ourselves out and cut into soft, caky earth with rectangular tools on rods.

I salvaged forgotten red onions scattered in the paths and hidden between lettuce and small greens. In tight rows, we stooped and kneaded soil with our hands. I knelt and let it saturate my knees. Vital odors permeated the air, clean in the unity of their composting growth, like sweating crowds singing praise and turning fresh. In His earth our minds turned to Him, and in both the clumps we formed we naturally talked of God.

The germ of division molded into mottled feet of clay. Metal met worm, words lilted across minds; conversations linked and un-linked as we stepped over lines. 
When the work was done, we crossed to the tents with their tables of ripened tomatoes, bright-colored crates littering the ground like lobster traps, and wagon loads of dark round watermelon and squash.
He generously offered that we carry home a harvest.

He leaned against the trailer bed edge, and cut up pink flesh into wedges, handing them around as we gathered. The thick brown earth on my hands was drying into dust. I smacked off a layer and ate, and watched the dripping juice stain my dirty hands darker where it fell. The seeds crunched and I swallowed most of them.

For most of an hour we savored food God had made, and laughed at the way we threw rinds, or fooled ourselves. When honesty caught the conversation, it came out smoothly, like breathing. Like I'd want it to be: bottled things aged carefully to perfection, but served liberally.
Good has power, and gentle can be rough and tumble, and clear blue has depth like the sky. There are new shoots even while things die. And knowledge doesn't make you wise.

As I carried my bursting paper bag back to my room, I bent and smelled the rich, sweet, varied scents of autumn's abundance, lent to me unexpectedly on a single rare Friday. I could not keep from smiling, and laughed in the shower.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Snapdragon Featherdown

One pine tree casts an astonishing shadow halfway across the lawn-mown grass - This is our backyard for four years or three and a half -
And I run in it, back and forth,
Touching the dry grooved bark each time I reached it,
Once or twice planting a kiss,
Wishing I knew how to cartwheel,
Blissful in the damp of the evening, watching serene stars slide behind certain traveling clouds.

I am frightened by the refulgence of my own heart
When it is worn thin to nothing but a vessel to hold treasures in.
I laugh and laugh at myself for laughing,
And laugh at myself for wanting to be seen laughing
By someone who might understand.

Well, we will share this vessel together. You sharing me, and me sharing You,
Breaming the bottom of our boat
So the light shows through.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

September 24, Bridesmaid

Only a year ago
We sat at the top of the world you were about to enter.
We sat at the top of your stairs, in our nightclothes,
Awed, and calm, and terrified by terror and by joy.

The breath of trust blew through us from behind
The space above and the space below
Were the blending points of our two white thoughts,
That would grow gold.

That night I slept in your sisters' room, and your sister cried.
Cried to think of evenings without your soft voice hushing,
your love soothing,
your snowy arms hugging her goodnight.

But it was right to let the harmony begin
Love so desired, and love inspired a song that two could sing.

With the next coming of the cool moon over desert sand,
There was a new ring on your left hand
And all the stars rang together
With laughter.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Afraid To Stop Trying

I saw myself with loaded arms
A laden back, and strained hands
Determined to carry my burdens,
To carry them all at once,
and Alone.

I was nearing the middle of my way.
My back ached, my arms were bruising under weight,
my hands had deep impressions,
But I would not drop anything, would not call out, would not stop.

Blood pounded in my temples, heat blurred my eyes,
But pleasure in the less-important lies, in truth, in lies.
Half way on my path I couldn't step, my arms failed, I collapsed in tears,
Unable even to free my hands to wipe them away.

This is what is means to say, "I am afraid to stop trying." 

A Saturday Without Gravity

When you asked me to be your mother, I didn't know how,
Except by carrying you longer
And letting you down.

To your sister I have been daughter, mother, father, lover;
Chef, and beast, and dressmaker.
Later I'll be wife, after waiting draws more than side-glances
Or startling stares through glass.

I wonder if the stories I tell you are my own,
If I'm waiting to be plunged into water.
It took death to make her love, love to make her live,
Life to make her feet ache on ground.

She's tied to twenty-two silken threads to keep from floating away.
I'm tied to my own apron strings.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Experiments in Poison

I will fold myself in grass, and you will tumble on my lap.
We will pick oats, find strange homes, make maypoles of trees.

And if, behind one wall, you find ashes and experiments in poison, I will tell you a lonely one lives there,
And we will clean house for his return.

Ask me to dance again and I will not be ashamed to be seen spinning;
My arms must learn to lift.

I do not kiss you to make to think of kissing
I kiss you to remind you of what matters more than this.

The House of Blessing

We have prayed behind trees,
We have danced on young grass, young snow, in secret,
We have run barefoot on rocks in the rain.

We have met quietly in libraries,
We have staked ourselves in hallways
We have shaken with laughter, ached with tears.

We have watched a woman clutch men's hands and fling her body in a wheel of war,
Like a shot bird whirling, rolling on a road,
Like music, like a thrown stone, but "light as phyllo dough."

We have sung in the night,
We have talked until early,
We have sung in the morning, and made bread from memory.

We have carried tables up stairs,
Tangled fingers in sunny hair,
Un-knotted knots as we wished.

I have scrubbed behind closed doors, 
Told stories while stories were stored,
Eaten from the surface of the world.

You have woven home in close quarters,
Made beauty in a beater house,
Greeted change with grace.

You have blessed, and I have been blessed. Amen.

Thursday, September 1, 2011


Raining rhythm of piano keys
Like children's fingers on my collar bone
Like ripples in the water, where bleeding underbellies of lily pads sprout stems arching up like portals into worlds.
This is a creation where colors converge in soul speech. Where crimson sighs quietly in spreads of green. A pen cap, a candy wrapper, holly berries make me stand still, hardly, barely breathing. Spilling out at last, the one half-leaf pleads guilty for me as I pass. Where did my heart learn scarlet?
Darting from the path, I cannot hold my ribs from gasping laughter, desperate to believe vermilion asks for what I hope it asks.