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Eve Dumovich

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Small ghosts of their cousins. Splitting the sky. With red. A frog stirs a bird awake ... WEDDING POEMS. I. Strong with agate edges. A man with music eyes. A ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Eve Dumovich


1
TIDELINES
By Eve Dumovich
2
These are the recollections and the images of a
woman who spent twenty years on Vashon Island
before a century ended and the oil wars began.
They were written as she made friends. raised
children, had lovers and always, always, had a
garden. They are presented gratitude to
the magic dreamers who left this planet during
that time, and whose souls still seem to color
the corn and sweeten the berries. They are
dedicated to Billy, Jakk, Jac, Fred, Jackie,
Marjorie, Mary, Annie, Ed, and Rick.
3
  • The Island
  • and
  • Its Seasons

4
STARTING OUT
Under a moist-lipped sky Where stars stab blunt I
lie furled like a leather-damp leaf On sodden
soil Only the rain and the wind make it Through
the silence Yet back behind my red-circled Dreams
and under the white shapes, Gray clouds and
blind, blank faces move Slowly through dark
triangles Flame-edged shapes and memories There
is a sense of healing It's been a long and bitter
rain Black and moist and sharp as a crystal But
now, deep in the damp warmth of earth A small
glow moves Almost drowned by darkness And with
trembling fingers Frightened of trying I form the
light into a poem Under a moist-lipped sky
5
MORNING ON VASHON
Each day dawns With its own light Creeping
from behind The weight of trees There is no
end to The flat places lifted By silver And
on the way The humps and hillocks Of marsh
grass and thistles Loom like mountains Small
ghosts of their cousins Splitting the sky
With red A frog stirs a bird awake Until the
field Creaks and squalls with life Like twin
moons Headlights forge the road And the
difference is made
6
SUMMER
As planets circle a swollen sun Grass flowers
explode from cylindrical seed head arrogant
with knowledge of their space Lower down, where
stalk pierces warm, bright air Ants move, blind
to the birth above them Pods hang heavy from
vines Insecure with their burden But holding
on Their job is to hold on And carry the
containers of new life Cat curls around pumpkin
leaves Impressing the earth Where a worm
sensing a new weight Knows not to surface
Birds sound, a song of time Their time to sing
Their nests are dry Empty Residue of
struggle caught in scraps of feather and clay.
Somewhere, wings they made are stretching
Strengthening, unseen, against the sun A seed
blown by wind against asphalt, knows not to root
and turns to dust. Sliding across watery meadow
The ferry lows, Carrying searchers who look in
pockets and shoes For truth While a seagull
wheels, laughs and Dives for newborn salmon In a
universe where stars mount Fish fry and
kelp Circling inward To infinity
7
FALL GARDEN
Once filled stalks crackle Sharp-edged in
borrowed thorns Pebble-filled husks Cornered by
light Blowing leaves Mock the rooted silence of
the stalks Freed, close to dust They perch on
air Spreading outward Rain waves synchronize The
house a reef And we, polyps, peering At an
enclosing world Kelp drapes the apple tree Ferns
enfold plumping slugs It leaves a vacuum A tide
flat of flattened grass Broken stalks and
softened fruit True colors fade Agates drying on
a beach
8
INTROIT
The blackberries molded this summer It slipped
by The golden light ate the days And the hay
tumbles over The hoe left in mid row Corn tassels
above the thistles Coating beans with down and
spiking The slug-carved squash Tomatoes stay
untrimmed Nothing is ordered Even the roses
explode above Black-edged leaves And the lawn
hides croquet balls Chewed by the neighbor's
dog Somehow, it keeps growing As my eyes pick
weeds And turn soil Within my mind But the sun
falls early and bloody This year And my shaking
hands Are bone white In the harvest moon
9
ICE FEATHERS
Suddenly hexagons fall on roses The pastel island
turns north And new visions come with the
hexagons Falling suddenly on roses New roads
thrust through crystal and old pathways are
forgotten Who lives in houses humped by
snow? Windows open to drifts Doors boarded
against life I think I see a withered hand Upon
the sill Until the icicle falls I hear the ghosts
of children Laugh dry among the cobwebs Snow!
They whisper Snow! It's snow! And their laughter
haunts me Still The road between the trees Draws
the dreamer and end the dream To follow the light
is to walk with shadow There is peace in
knowing The time for watching The slide-ice
shift So gray the days Until ice crowns the
boughs And hangs strange jewels from shambled
forms The light in the eyes of a dying bird The
scent of roses in a gale
10
Marching fences Frame the shape of unborn
dreams Blushing in the death of day And forgotten
by dawn Sheets left by lovers Hide thorns and
ferns and rocks All night they toss in Their
Douglas fir poster bed And then, slide up into
the clouds The pond holds a cloud
unbruised Protected from ripples By white wadding
gauze A shroud for dead branches The flakes
powder the world outside We are strangers It is
not ours But careful guests We walk the way that
others walk Minding our manners And leaving the
private white Inviolate
11
EASTER SUNRISE OVER INSPIRATION POINT
The drugged world howls at a sullen And
indifferent moon Madrona trees flex bloody
pectorals Over the bank Bird on birdsong form
harmonic Cacophony with frogs and creaking
stumps I reach out and touch the mountain My arm
extends over brush and fern to paint the sky
turquoise Red blood pours down the side of
bone-white hills Pulsing into existence as I
work Rumpling like a dropped and gory shroud I am
swallowed by stones for a moment Everything is
alien, suffocated The purple waves are gaping
mouths The screaming birds too loud to be
heard Gleaming molten lava oozes at my feet Gold
and orange blaze the bed above me Hills mauve
upward as black velvet valleys sink I force my
eyes into the images The forge, the fire, and the
blood A finch in a frame of boughs Twitters Haiku
to a friend
12
Ashes burn my mouth A flaming baby's head thrusts
between my peaks I make room for the light And
tear myself apart Easy as a feather falls It is
all created Mountain, beaches, docks, houses and
barns I look back at the Tree The finch is gone.
13
SPRING
Rain lies across the land A sideways slant On the
state of things Reversed buildings Point down
through puddled asphalt And we walk upon their
image Shattering Birds turn fishes Huddle against
tide Sky, waters merge into the womb Edgeless,
an old memory of peace The oblong faces wait
beside the shore Until the waves, the ways
come No more The ending of this time is passing
on Birds, dying birds, sing Their dying song At
best we wait for sun At least the ground supports
our feet And everywhere their hooded
eyes Brighten when we meet

14
MIRROR
Where every turn of rain-slick road Can I leave a
circle warm holds a memory? And every face a
story? Can I like Orpheus walk forward Away from
things as familiar as my flesh not as firm and
sweet as they once were But safe in their moving
predictability Have I the strength to place one
foot Before the other Firmly Going ahead into
fog Once. Change was what I dreamed and horizons
were another turn in the road Now uncertain, I
hold this aging boat In charted waters Avoiding
rocks, surrounded by A friendly mist. But still,
I know that Once I take that step I might find a
new way. But yet I linger. Urged to look back To
see my love turned to salt Paralyzed between
wisps of fog and rain.
15
Part II The Island Family and Friends
16
THE BIG
She reaches for me now And hugs my knees Needing
me Her eyes fearful now The big is too
much Hugging me I hold her knowing One
day She'll know The big is too much For even me.
17
THROUGH A SUNNY WINDOW
Blue eyes fixed on sun window on water. She
stares with knowing at a world so new Sound and
sight are the same Time is broken by
need Alone Out there to us Time beats with
duty Broken by sleep Our lives are short And all
unfinished die Because, like her When new The
world is there In wait For touch, taste, and
smell But as we die Still we wait For the
joy Across the road Or through a sunny window.
18
HIGH CHAIR
She reaches for the bread Like a dancer at
barre Stretching to bend The perfect
arch Murmurs soft around Her cinnamon roll The
Sunday morning sound of breakfast Pauses It
could be the hand of God reaching across
the chapel roof For Adam.
19
MY CHILDREN
Wheels of a train on Parallel tracks Twisting up
the mountain To the white light From a distance
the tracks Seem a single steel ribbon Armed with
knowing how To build a snowman together Work
from two sides of a coloring book With crayon
stumps And how To get glasses of water at
night For everyone And cookies And having slain
monsters Visited the planets and Flown to the
moon Garbed only in capes They should be prepared
for anything That lies Anywhere
20
Still, as their fragile Heads hanked with
sun On cinnamon frosting Bow Sharing a project Or
a vision They seem so small Ocean grasses Bent
before the wind Over a buried agate Or pipe Nina,
the teacher Her lofty smile Destroyed by a
dimple A nine-year-old philosopher queen With
Charlie Chaplin's sense of humor She can throw
back her head To roar with laughter Her mind
afloat with Soccer balls, horses, poetry Ballet
and boys Brought low only By math, a bad cold,
And having to clean her room
21
Brother Michael, small and noisy Soaked with
sisterly love And exasperation Grows sturdy of
foot In the shadow of her dreams Wanting now, to
do Everything that Nina does His royal sister And
his goddess He wants Bouncing puppy-boy
between Wanting and doing Nipping and licking And
rolling around with Scrap And then, Recovering, Li
fts a queenly eyebrow And decides not to be
amused he tiny dog abandoned Outside the Tacoma
pound A bathmat was his ancestor But he yelps and
rolls With Michael until the game Is ended with A
lick from Harry
22
The distinguished Dalmatian Who, like Nina, can
frolic And frown without Worries of
inconsistency And Michael, eagerly growing In his
sister's love Loves all he sees Except, perhaps,
the chickens Because they smell bad And as each
night drops Over the mountains and Rolls over the
hay The little house creaks with Wind lifting
from the Sound Pushing Seattle's morning
clouds Over the chimney Until they are in the
east And the moon bathes Nina In her attic
nest Stocking her dreams And the big dipper
swings From a star Holding steady vigil Over
Michael's head
23
PRIVATE POEM
Say babe... City man who gets lost in roses And
the sight of chickens on a roof Super-sophisticate
d Star Trek fan Lover like a bull, falling
asleep Like a child Waking slowly, trying to
catch And remember dreams Bright hot eyes and
dimples From collar buttons You say You've been
so many places Done so many things That once in a
while you need To make a litany of all The shiny
people you glittered with The fast people you ran
with The rich people you ran from And once said,
once listed You put them away and chase a
sunbeam One day You turned from slender lace and
saw a cloudy mama She wonders if a man who loves
unicorns Can love her Because neither really
exist But soft light and moonbeams Turn moody
mamas Into madonnas
24
TO A LOVER
Struggling through the mists One morning The
trees turn craggy And reach for me Suddenly the
gentle way Shudders with ghosts The dark water
tosses over rock Somewhere a lost dog barks The
edge of sunset fades Sweet creatures of the
mind Hide Laughter fades Darker dryads who
live On fear, fantasy gnomes Of cave and
rot Where white blind creatures Move through
endless night. The moonlight road wavers And
breaks as waves shatter Its surface.
25
Change flicker clouds across the moon And trees
reach between Shafts of light tearing away The
misty curtain Clouds race across A blind
unwinking eye Wind rises The path is a thousand
shards I reach for your hand It is not there I
see you on a cliff Crying at the moon Your eyes,
too, blinded By her harsh, cold light Branches
keep me from your side Trap me in rooted
corners Until the storm is over.
26
A LYRIC FOR MARY
We've traveled many miles Seen many shadowed
hills We've heard the sound of trains We've seen
the whirl of wheels We sat upon a hillside Ate
cheese in southern sun We've ridden through the
vineyards Seen olive trees begun From ocean until
mountain From meadow until sea I've heard your
sweet voice singing Sometimes, it sang for me So
as sun soars skyward To burn the morning
haze May love light up your evenings And
illuminate your days.
27
WEDDING POEMS
I Strong with agate edges A man with music eyes A
woman of homespun cloth Tumbling along the brown
paths And through blackberries Light of silver,
beach ore Bright and right United love Of stone
and sea His hands pull music from metal Her smile
textures and changes with the tide In the moon
and sun Sea makes agate gleam Agate makes sea
take form Shaped with love are stone and
sea Changeless unseen changes Still.
28
II
It always happens in the fall Sap running high
and sweet Ruby over apples, golden corn An
explosion of all things brought to fruit Sea
running high and sweet flowing over pale, white
stones Glistening, waiting, for salmon And
birth The time is right for harvest Stalks bend
low Fattening field mice And all around the
hum of garnering Gathering after time of growth
and sorrow The sweetest fruit The strongest
herbs The brightest rose An apple holds no sin or
poison It is the balance of tart and sweet, white
and red All of life, heart-shaped At its
center. Parsley, sage, rosemary and
thyme hold no bitterness or anger All of life
strong-scented at their center It all comes back
to The misty growing days of fall And explosion
into future.
29
III
This day dawns with rain washing the island
clean for winter Clouds mound above the edge of
leaves and grass emeralds with crystals A rainbow
flashes across the page of blue ending with a
sudden bird song Two friendly people hold
hands for a moment The quiet knowledge of their
world shining like the grass or tears This day
those who watch see a rainbow of their own for a
moment until the rain drifts in again.
30
TO DINA, MY DOG
The hay was taller this year and hard to get
through And the night air pained your
legs Sometimes the world blurred away And only
scent brought you home again Once you chased
sticks flying through the air Caught them in your
teeth, ran for apples, balls Rocks, and returned
them at your will After you had shaken them
dead In the city you caught a rat With finesse
you did not know you had And kept a small,
squalling human Safe From whatever Your bark at
night, at dawn, guarded us, Woke us, enraged
us And in the spring You rolled in sea
creatures And stank
31
You traveled hot in cars, Panted at the
freeway You hated cats, vets, and mailmen You
waited for us each day on the front step, For us
to come home, and You never left that
step Until one day, it seemed, It was time to
go You walked blind before the wheels Of time
and a speeding car Leaving us behind.
32
TO MICHAEL
The silence of his Calm, blue eyes. Seems wiser
than it should be And he smiles at air He waits
for things to happen Is a space of enclosed
potential His small and dirty fingers Grab and
turn to questions He runs into the camera As if
the lens could take him Anywhere. He will not
stay still For the shot He runs into it,
laughing Leaping
33
LETTER TO SYBIL
In firm rhythms you write Of ghosts I have seen
before Mirrored in the shadows and the
tides Around your eyes Floating in the
moon Diminished by sunlight On a barge bounding
by a houseboat You said "They are all so dull
and political I Painted my toenails purple I
knew The ACLU in bed." They were dull, caught by
the tintinnabulation of their vowels Lost in the
mists on Union Bay Where the ducks eat sewage By
I thought "He looks like Noah And she is a gay,
gay failure of a woman." You turned brown on the
barge, too Full of life like my daughter But
bigger, More unnerving We don't all shrivel as we
age
34
I have ghosts too The dark beatnik walks at
night They ask me now "And you, what do you
do? Just stuck on that island?" They say
something like Chidren Need Their Mother My
Wife Works At The Savings and Loan She Loves
It. I think The Wife looks tired. Our relatives
are like a horde of crows Lining the wires
before a storm I throw them wild bird seed But
they prefer cat food. Nina missed Christmas One
blue eye red with infection Two glands
swollen And 102 degrees She lay in her
bed Watching Mr. Magoo's Christmas on
television Painted her Barbie green Not one
relative called to wish her Merry Christmas They
all knew she was sick Because she wasn't there.
35
Mad Mary must be Doing it again I say, He turns
his head away His eyes beg me not to make an
issue of it I ignore his eyes. I am Mad too My
madness hides under Motherly fusses They never
forgive me Actually I am not Heavy-breasted and
wide-hipped My hair has no gray It is
flame-red My eyes are green and endless I stand
six feet tall And am as sinewy As the kelp
Waving in the tide I am, in fact,
Ondine Somehow or other I was put in this
frame Like Ariel waiting for Prospero I know how
it feels to be trapped By the sensuous boles of
the oak
36
I lent some flesh to a couple of kids But they
grew their own souls I have only borrowed them
from time to feed and call doctors for Nobody
every really has a baby Cells multiply as easily
in a lab And the tube feels no obligation Ondine
knows this She whispers deep sea secrets in their
ears And sends the salt air to polishing the
firs She tells them how To ignore the hooded
lines of crows And binds their heads with
salt-sea strands At night When the hill
disappears into the mist And we are perched on
the edge She walks up from the beach Leaving
flat, wet prints beneath the ferns And the dog
howls She comes across the road to meet the dark
beatnik By the back fence They drink mushroom
tea And make love against the moving earth.
37
THE BOY
In terms of today You are on the crest of the
new The old books of Being and Doing gather dust
unopened on shelves Looking more like
insulation Than anything useful The sweeter tones
of music Run off your mind Like water on oil And
only abrasives enter I wait until you are
out Doing your thing To sneak a listen to a
violin Or an oboe not serious On booze or
coke Your normalcy glitters with Energy, with
humor But in the morning smog Or on the shaft of
midnight You cannot love, or feel, or hope And
you are like a dying crow Caught on the fences of
your mind.
38
BILLY
Billy's words floated into smoke-filled
rooms Riding dust motes Light beam through open
door A shaft of wisdom Honed on wit Guided by
love All his words were True and carved our
souls But there was one lyric That works for all
time And is his legacy "You can laugh You can
cry You can dance And you can sing But you don't
have to."
39
A FRIEND
We are reaching for the moon with both
hands Parallel figures Casting long
shadows Adjacent, linked by shape The outer edges
of a mandala We need not touch To know we love We
need not build each other's shrine No need to
push each other to a star Or angle up for
glory Trees, you say, entwined Perhaps But more.
Two shadows as one To those who walk beside
us And as two to those who follow For we have
seen the same moon rose Gazed at ripples when
there was no tide Followed form to make it
substance And loved the laughing lotus
40
WOMAN-CHILD
Dew crowns your head, light Splits the dark trees
and Sunrise halos your feet And in your dawn the
curled unicorn Sleeps, dreaming of your sweetened
arms Your cloudless eyes Those trees, dipped in
blossom Butterfly bounces, swaying to the sound
of Wild canary, finch and robin, Once bent above
my head Once rained petals into my arms, and was
new All new and bright, so long ago. I would draw
you a map, trace pathway between fern and mossy
cave Point the way between the shadows And shield
you from the dew Keep you dry and warm and close
to me Forever But those looming trees are closed
to me Once walked, the blossoms form a wall Once
felt, the dew, a memory and a hope And with each
step forward, your own path is created
41
And no two are the same through those woods Those
craggy trees, embracing boughs and dancing
birds The feather-soft dawn breeze, slow dance of
budding fern Purple dawn of plum blossoms Belong
to you And your own sun will blast a way Between
crags and caves And you may stumble, Caught,
perhaps. Only by the memory of my love And down
that path, once the Trees have aged and the
blossoms Swollen to fruit And the bold, bright
sun has shadowed And glittered your way And
clouds blow easily across your eyes Once the day
has loomed With all its force You may look back
along that road Remembering the dawn And
watch Your own child Set first foot into falling
petals With love
42
EDMUND TESKE
A bird Balancing on a dune of sand Hung against
the sky Beating the breeze Held In silver
oxide And zoned By count Can never land The
man Turned bird Madly fights the coming
wind Pushes beak to puncture vacant sky Is
trapped And never Lands
43
Part III The Island Growing Older
44
THIRTY-NINTH SUMMER LOSING THE TRACES
This day the sweet pea bends Down to rock at
medium tide Water warm enough to swim Float over
barnacles Brush kelp and weed aside Lie pillowed
by salt and wave Over rocks on bright blue
blankets Brown young men spread thighs to
sun Baby girls push breasts and hair to Seagulls
straddling updrafts I feel the weight of all my
steps Push barnacles into my soul And rub skin as
rough as driftwood Air shimmers between bold blue
eyes and thighs I can feel the feet as I
walk Past rolling hills of back and
breast Unseen, Unthere Unthere, Unseen I stump to
the tideline Kelp tangles and matted weed Squat
among rocks like a toad A wave lifts tendril and
smashes Salt water between my legs Foam trails to
silver coins
45
Each wave is different Some are capped
like Little Catholic ladies on Sunday Others,
bare-headed, drive Hard upon my center And
others, filled with debris and sand Cover my skin
with things I brush away There is no connection
between the waves Formed of sea and sand No link
at all Each singly is born, enters and
leaves Like breath or feathers or flame Or
visions Or days or death Or young men All brown
and laughing on the rocks Unseen Unthere
46
LEAVING THE TRACES II
Wind pushes her bright skirt into a
parachute Feet land on green tide flat
target Crabs rush beneath rock She is caught in
act of breeding and raising Strong as
Madonna Soft as beach grass I remember that time
when Baby things caught my ribs in a damp
vise And fingers lay loose between my
breasts Each act so complete Each move so
powerful To feed, to cuddle, to croon, Filling
days With sound and touch and smell Brought low,
brought soft, brought sweet For first
exposures My son leaps from the dock Spreads air
with knee and hand And turns himself into a
cannonball
47
Under water he Slips between kelp roots and sea
cucumber I have taught him about Jellyfish and
mud sharks Even though I know nothing about
them Myself See how soft, how soft She tells her
baby Dragging his hand across a feather My son
calls His voice cuts through wind and wave A
whale's last song "How fast Mom, see how Fast I
can run!" He hurtles down the dock and plummets
into water Time stops I watch dark waves close
over him And a seagull screams He is born
again Pushed to air from the womb of the
sea "It's over my head, Mom! It's over my head!"
48
THE OPENING
The wall-eyed band Pushes its small sound
through wires Shaking the Works (Executed
locally, hung for the event) The hunch-backed
dancers Caught in the tintabulation Of the
air Shuffle off to Jericho On a Fender wail The
artist (Hung locally, executed for the
event) Says "I do not dance any more I run It is
the same thing Only not, not As sexist." In the
corner, their faces smooth as orchids His friends
talk about Art How it Fails If it is not
Political Not aware of the Times Michelangelo
is Important Historically But he is a cliche today
49
Poor dear My ears are stuffed with words For my
museum of sounds Once filled with fury Now
signifying nothing. Ambiance, behemoth, busty,
caring Devoted, equal, forgiving, daring Fucking,
growing, humble, sharing Rapping Syllabic logic,
and I think of Ohm Be it ever so humbleThe
biggest cliche of all Will I dance? Of course The
sounds of my sneakers feel good against the
concrete floor I hear trains and boats in the
drums My cowboy partner has no eyes beneath his
stetson His jeans are stuffed I used to put socks
in my bra When I went to high school The music
stops I giggle Hip my way to the bar And order a
Light.
50
UNICORN PART II
Slashed awake by moonbeams A tiny grub Slithers
across the ground All things awake beneath the
light Even the smiling blind Underlings of
hell Tearing with the maws of no time The
filigreed curls Of newborn lamb Huddled in the
field Of gleaming mounds that stretch To the
edges of existence Unbroken by tree or grass And
burning in the bright, bright moon No motion Only
the sad, soft lamb eyes Flickering with
fear Flickering madly with innocence There is no
smile. No place to sleep Wide-eyed the lamb
waits Until a long shadow spears The round
glowings And a swan neck arches Against the moon.
51
SAMPLER
We Are the experts The ones who feel, nurture And
care for the world Shape it dewy-eyed Limpid
fingers fashioning Presidents and Kings We Are
the ones responsible For all the love gone
wrong All the men in dresses All the kids who wet
their beds We are - They do - They say So why,
when hurling Reasons across the cosmos For the
macramé psyches Do they say We do it wrong? If we
are the reasons for it all It's their's to take
on And leave the living To us.
52
THE LAST GUEST HAS LEFT
The last guest has left the banquet And I stand
scraping the residue Into garbage cans Here a
touch, there a look, a shape of face A
song Scraped away, rinsed with whatever is
handy Cleaned up for a new day. The windows are
open and the sky softens As I wipe and clean and
scrub Like Ceasar, I wash my hands Like John I
splash my face The guests are gone The chairs
pulled back from the table And the last wail of
the record repeats itself Stuck on a
scratch Stuck on a scratch I put away the plates
and dump the ashtrays A child comes in, offers to
help Sleepy eyes surprised at the darkness in
mine. And with my arms around her, I listen As
the first bird sings And the table is cleared
once more.
53
EGG/CHICKEN/EGG
Each day the sun Tunnels through thickened
air Lifts shreds of wood and straw Each day
beneath the feathers Beneath the sculptured
layers A form, born somewhere In eternity Takes
shape Each day Emerged the egg Contains an
egg Containing an egg An embryo Each day,
uncluttered by mites Asleep among the
pinions They eat, gossip and pray Knowing which
came first Each day.
54
STUDENTS
You are gone now Participles still
dangling Plagued by thoughts Half-jelled Ideas
shaken into some form For the final Evaporated in
the sunlight Your faces haunt my sleep Hallways
with doors almost open Paths that need more
traffic I would take each and pull open And push
flat Our time is done I wait, surrounded by
folders Like an old woman At a bus
stop Surrounded by the bags of her
existence Until the next bus unloads Its cargo of
reluctant pilgrims.
55
PASSAGE
Yesterday the light crept up the bark of
trees Just before the day turned in And ferns
were golden underneath That time before the last
half Has a pausing It is good to sit on rain-soft
needles Earth damp and count leaves Pushing up
from bayberry Walking slow, I see more It is
clearer now because I no longer run along
dawn-drenched beaches Or through hay at high
noon Now I take firm strides through winter
woods My feet are sure and press firm The light
is even Each detail of vein and form There for
the feeling It is time to love it all And to walk
alone Just before twilight.
56
ENTERING THE DAYTIME LIFE
My breath is short My chest aches and ankles
throb I pound away aerobically New rivers run
behind by ears Between my breasts as I stamp and
grunt And keep my eyes from the mirror In the
daytime world An act of patience Is one of
forgetting Yet catching each memory for what it
is Knowing it will go its way Like beads in a
rosary Slipping, bringing the next along There
are no teachers here No gurus shrouding
shadows In the sun No mothers, fathers,
mentors Just a wide, wild stretch for almost
everything Nothing quite works Advice sounds like
the beating of a hundred bird wings Cluttering
the sky with shapes Past remembered Past let go.
57
Past has no time On the furrows of this plain It
moves ahead Waves waging foam trails Moonlight
slithering across a field There is no way to
stop The heart-blood pounding And the pain It
becomes hard to find a place To spread the
blanket of our being.
58
CROSSING THE LINE
Without water the soil cracks Lies open Fluid of
any sort relieves Without dreams the mind turns
desert Sand blown away from its center Lost
crystals in unending light There is no way to
catch the dust turned empty No way to stop the
slow circle outward Only a look back A memory of
green and rainy places Of safe and soft It, too,
fades in the sun The dust blowing outward In
unending, shining circles of pain In the
sun Crossing the Line Eyes of glass Sunk in
furrowed skin And valleys where nothing
lives Once gentle, now pushed in. Harsh A clawed
hand open Waiting for a touch that never comes Or
a song dead on the wind Around a corner Closer
with each heartbeat.
59
SURVIVORS
Once a war begins It is waged forever until we
die The air it breathes pollutes Forever we
exhale the memories Making sure they stay
fresh Ripped scabs on wounds Scar tissue
forming Only on the edges Inside is raw, deep and
nerve-torn But never have we survived a
war Something dies each time war Is
remembered For a while it seemed There would be
one generation Of one tribe Just one out of
thousands That would not see blood running But
not this time Babies argue life and death In
Crayola The disease is our own We have picked the
scabs Infection is king.
60
POLITICALLY CORRECT
We measure our lives in Cups of latte and the
way We understand spinach Carefully, we pick our
way Through reality, Stepping only On bare
earth Where nothing lives Content to count and
recount The careful, precious things we know A
weaving, a plate, or a pot Or anything we
fashioned For the ritual of our being To make
moments emerge And we pay rapt attention To tiny,
fragile things A flower, a dog, or A blade of
grass Not for us the distant Howls of wild
city The untamed rush of things and thoughts Our
experiences are Special Selected Carefully from a
feast of healthy choices We are spontaneous At
certain times When we give ourselves Permission
61
Not for us the sheer flow Of cars pushing
lights Down darkened tunnels Or the game of
chance and tragedy We walk Soles flat Heeling the
bare earth Careful where we walk Making sure We
make no difference.
62
THE HUMORIST
She learned to laugh when she was very
young Because Her mother said "Laughter is good
medicine. When you get old Laugh lines look
better." So she learned to laugh When other
people laughed When something didn't make
sense Or when she wanted to cry Or fight She
laughed whenever she could And people said she
was happy Even though she never got the
joke Unless someone else laughed first She never
learned to smile Because people can tell When
your smile isn't real And besides Smiling is like
Touching or kissing Especially when you do it
At someone They might touch back Or kiss, or
smile And that's not funny It could be dangerous
63
In college she learned to laugh When she forgot
something Or when she heard something Strange or
weird Like a new idea Or when someone dressed
funny And someone else laughed first People
said She was happy-go-lucky She learned not to
laugh after sex But it was O.K. to laugh Before
he got serious Instead of saying No. And she
learned to laugh When they never came back that
way And when she ran into them Days later And
they ignored her She laughed then She learned to
laugh Whenever she drank Or did drugs Or got
fired And when she found out She was
pregnant She laughed then People said She was fun
to be around.
64
Someone found her so much fun He married her And
she laughed because She had no time for fun She
laughed when he left her And when her son ran
away And went to live with his father She laughed
to herself All the time Chuckling Stumbling Up
the hill from the tavern Laughing until tears
came Even in her sleep One day She stopped
laughing She stayed sleeping And when they found
her She was smiling.
65
FACE IN A CHRISTMAS BALL
Tilting her head My reason rests Misshapen
in red glass Cradled in dark green spikes
Thorns hung with foil Tears frame a sea of
red shiny green cotton Sunset on an ocean My
face, a blurry island
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