Saturday, March 31, 2012

To My Parents

I remember how I used to smell your hair when I was a baby, on your shoulders.
I never liked it, but I sniffed it every time. Like I couldn’t help touching 
the hot sides of the toaster. Or staring at the sun. 


One day it came to me
That I am not like
Other people. Like
Running to see the moon like
It was a secret.

Memories of a Forgotten Sister

 I hollered, “You’ll catch your death!”
You cried, “Who cares?” like some whippet,
Dashing through them cotton fields with your hair wild.
I followed behind, like I do.

I pretend to be angry when you laugh at me, but
I’m always kind of pleased to amuse you.

Sometimes when you’re scrubbing by the sink and I pass by, you shout,
“Wash your face!” and flick water in my eyes so quick I freeze (and kick your leg and run away).

Three Elegies for Stargazing With You

I always associated you with sky, because the times you came alive were starlit nights. You’d wake me on especially beautiful evenings, and I wouldn’t resist. We’d stand outside with our bare feet padding chilly on the grass and your arm around me.


I loved you because
You woke me at odd hours and never expected me to
Complain. So I didn’t. We watched the planets spin, and the orange flame
Burn across the rooftops.


For half an hour we didn’t say a word.
I shivered in your dirty coat and watched my damp breath
Cling against the sky. Finally you said,
“We don’t know nothing,” and I said,
“You’re right.”

Our Early

You said,
They’ll never love me for my face, and I said, 

I will love your for your face.

And you lay your head in the bend 
of my arm and I told you 
the old reasons. You retched
the kind of moans one heaves 
in pain or tears. But you grew still.
I thought you slept - 
thank you,
soft as dawn.

That was how we whispered 
when your skin was raw 
and blistered and your sleep so fragile 
it was was broken by 
a shaft of light.

Thursday, March 29, 2012


"White flowers are the most fragrant,"
She said.
Her eyes. 

Have You

Have you given me permission to be very brave?
Your leaves have opened inches since
This morning.

Days of Heaven

I can't
I can't
I will go somewhere and become
So you can find me.

For the Old Woman and her Granddaughter in the Park

White candytuft on your

I now
Know where you live.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

And Then, Remembering an Old Promise, I Decided to Walk Under Trees More Often.

Hope deferred, like the waning moon,
Will silently wax back in expectant surrender. Luminous, invincible, even more tender. Kindness and respect without sugar, and suddenly every surface shines.

Jupiter and Venus were a sign to us, unknowingly binding brother, sister, mother in the same expectation.
And joy, and love, were so close they buckled the sky. 

Friday, March 23, 2012

Palazzo Simoncelli

“Your footsteps follow not what is outside the eyes, but what is within.”

In eleven, not completion, these columns rise and sigh out, give me time. See a small thread winding through my side; in contemplation find a silent, iridescent solace. Hear words beyond the language of the skin, of which skin plays a part. Press against these pillars, and align. Pass beside them, and begin to long for purity past safety, joy beneath pain. Breathe from the corners of this rectangle sky, for the first time.
Belonging to a place is a delicate state.
These stanchions, like the trees of home, smell dry of smoke and lichen. Smooth against the lips, too great to throw the arms around. Still, a love requited.
Force is required for stillness. In calm allow the terror of a conscience, the comfort of a rule. Be queen, be fool. Find truth deeper than its own façade, its own sincerity. Grow within this womb of clarity.
God does no thing in halves.

Quote: Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities, p. 91.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Bernini's Triton Fountain, Rome

Space and openness. Beginning to love – do I love?
This city. Dropped back in(to) silence today.
I see things I think I know or have seen before. The world is too large for me, so I must fix on something. Please let it be You, Only, Jesus. I have nothing to say. So help me speak. Green, loss, understanding. A greater and a less. Rest from trying. Find a ladder to my treehouse attic gold.  Only sunlight makes the walls worth seeing. I accept you. Hear this. My flesh is like the oil on this board. There is nothing lovelier than your arm. I will leave Rome with a few strands of my hair, sailed out the window.
This glance is soul-closed but sunny. This silence, enigmatic. Ripe to be expunged at dinner tables with milk running, wine running. Understand the courage of this gaze, my cowardice. My undeveloped demurring. This is nothing to say except everything that matters, and we don’t know where to begin. 
So I will not be afraid.
What will last? What candy-bright will loosen in the wind, and shred in sunlight? Glitter by my side. Renew me. A place for birds to nest in. Stones seem cleaner than they are. Be patient in this patient day, and wash away.
Women carry roses. Men wear leather, scarves. Noise is constant but there are rarely billboard signs. 
Caramel yellow, slate gray, warm marbled white, salmon tan.
I never feel safely alone among strangers – will this be a first? I don’t tend to like such public places, but now, I think, I could be happy in Jerusalem. Your city for a garden. Your very stones are precious.

Women's Day, March 8

Judith and Holofernes. Jael and Sisera.

And me, plucking up orange petals from the cobblestone street, beneath the apartment window.
Blown a kiss in passing. Whistled at the evening before by two smoking men in a glowing doorway. “Tutta bella,” our landlord grinned as he handed us the key.
Is this honor or dishonor? Why am I ashamed?
It cuts me quickly to be perceived as available because American, judged by the immediacy of beauty.
What do I want, really?
“Nothing I know of yet.”
Rarely have I wanted so concretely as I have here, to be held. To be desired as wife, companion, friend. I cannot be your mother.
How great the girl that carried Your small body in her womb, her arms, and limply on her lap at last. How great is gentleness?

Mother of God. Lilies, mimosa.

There is fierce hope in the feminine heart. Forgiveness. The more we give, the more we love, they’ve said.
Though we deserve every jab and label (paint thorns and needles - bark sharp orders - spiral into preening, posing, gleaming florid faces and bared flesh for “we are more like Eve than the animals”) –
This is, at last, a story of mercy.
A woman is not laughter, perfume, or lively conversation. She, must be holy.
And so hold pain, bear loss, and hope in the impossible.
I am deeply a woman here.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Orvieto 3: Koyaanisqatsi

When the world is too large for us, where can we turn?
How can I make myself large enough to hold this? Where can I hide?
How can I know the needs of the my own humanity in the context of a crowd?
A sea of scrub brush, a sea of garish painted faces, plastic hair.
I only want one face of hope to fix on, two eyes of compassion. A well of clear water in a fizzling ocean.
We are in love with our own helplessness. We will cut off our anchors ourselves.
The original sin. We will live unhinged.
Be true to treachery until its walls cave in.
Be true to truth, and inscribe its emblems on your skin.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Orvieto II: Living Earth

“Is he not the earthliest of all?”

If this city is true, it is a truth below the surface of stone and the measure of bleating bell. It is a true deeper than its own façade, its own sincerity. This means more, so look at me. Give me time. See a small thread winding through my side, and there in contemplation find a silent iridescent solace.
Celestial in the melancholy sunlight. Smoke-stained joy. A rumbling, a shudder, pressure on the wide paned glass with each car’s passing.
We are delighted in the commonest novelties. Sugar, cream, caffeine. And then a rending, tearing at the lungs when the rarest familiar appears in the space between two walls.
Hollow out a place for me.
Rinse my eyes from a flash-enamored glaze. Subdue my gaze to that of a mother bearing the weight of humanity’s wings: I here bring a life to the world: earth’s richest soil will feed him, and he will know pain.
Teach these stones to speak. They have spoken. They are speaking.
And we are shot with realization. Here is a need that can only be met by

Italics: Flight After Death by Carl Nellis