Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Poetry is Not

Poetry is Not

Poetry is not memoir.

Poetry is not a homily.

Poetry is not a warning

nor an admonition.

It is not a lecture,

nor should it be.

(Heh, heh.)

Poetry is not a resume

nor recommendation letter.

Poetry is not an invoice,

but may be a statement.

Poetry is not discriminating;

it is wheelchair-accessible.

Poetry is not authoritative,

though it should ring true.

Poetry is not a tow-away zone

thought it may be in some zone

to which you’ve been transported.

Poetry is environmentally friendly;

if not disposable—at least recyclable.

Poetry is not one size fits all—but

you are welcome to try it on.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

It Wasn’t Just That

It wasn’t just that I broke my leg;

it was that it broke as I was walking

out the door, not skiing, not ice-skating

or snow-shoeing down a steep hill in

February when the snow is crusted

over in the gully. It wasn’t just that

I broke my leg, but that it happened

when we were hurrying to meet some

friends at the Eastman Theater

(whose admission we had offered

to pay). A mitzvah, my husband might

have called it. He would have wished

we could have done it anonymously,

(but someone had to produce a credit

card). It was December, and we, like

everyone, were too busy, overbooked.

A week earlier, I heard myself invite ten

people we barely knew over for Christmas

day dinner, which might’ve been a fine

idea, except I was told by the key invitee

that I must include an older woman, known

for her rudeness, who was part of their

extended family. When I realized, soon

after slipping, that I could not stand up

from the bottom step of the front porch,

my first thought was not, Oh, no—I have

broken my leg and life is going to be difficult

for weeks now. It was not—Oh, dear—how will

I manage the stairs between our attic bedroom,

The two floors below, laundry in the basement?

No, I am sorry to say that I sat on the sidewalk in

the cold, grateful that I now had a graceful excuse

to un-invite those ten folks for Christmas dinner.

Monday, August 29, 2011

A Boy on the Beach

You’re not exactly a boy,

perhaps, a young man fresh

from college —are you here

for the season? Is this what

you call your summer gig—you

dancing, twirling around in the sand

in your red shirt, baggy black

pants, your goateed chin in the air.

It’s not as if we wouldn’t have

noticed that pointed beard had

it not been jabbing the sky

as you leap in the air.

From where does your joy

spring on this dark rainy day?

Did someone say yes to

the question you almost

dared not ask? Is the lone

swimmer now crawling

with earnest to shore

coming to you?

Sunday, August 28, 2011

The Presence of Leila

The night of the day your

conception is announced

to us, I dream—no, I hear

your intended gender told

to me by whomever does

the speaking in our sleep.

That voice tells me a girl has

already started her journey,

and unlocks a longing in me

I have not yet known.

This peanut, this peach, this

grapefruit grows, not only in her

mother’s womb, but in a space

saved in my barrenness, like

ancient Sarah—just in case,

just in case, just in case.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Near The End

Four months and two weeks after

seeing her, for what might’ve been

the last time, we are honored to

be able to see Aunt Agnes again.

It is Mother’s Day—surely this day

she is taking some of her last

breaths, her eyes only slightly open,

as she continues to sleep the sleep

of Wednesday, uninterrupted.

Mary Jo, ever tenderly present,

fields calls in the hallway,

prepares for the inevitable end

of this phase of both of their lives—

and for the gathering of the clan—

for the release of the breaths held-in

and welled-up tears that will surely

fall when she crosses to the other

side of that narrow hallway.

Agnes must have felt like the eternity

was on this side the last few months—

some kind of purgatorial tarmac, or

red tape foul-up regarding her freedom

to move on from here. Perhaps, it was the

other way around. Was she hanging back

with her dear dear family, not wanting to

see all of their hearts so heavy at once?

In our yard, the late afternoon sun

pours a strange spotlight on the lone

bleeding hearts standing tall amongst

the gang of shaded pachysandra,

lying low, in their usual places.