I’m not feeling strong yet, but I am taking
good care of myself. The weather is perfect.
I read and walk all day and then walk to the sea.
I expect to swim soon. For now I am content.
I am not sure what I hope for. I feel I am
doing my best. It reminds me of when I was
sixteen dreaming of Lorca, the gentle trees outside
and the creek. Perhaps poetry replaces something
in me that others receive more naturally.
Perhaps my happiness proves a weakness in my life.
Even my failures in poetry please me.
Time is very different here. It is very good
to be away from public ambition.
I sweep and wash, cook and shop.
Sometimes I go into town in the evening
and have pastry with custard. Sometimes I sit
at a table by the harbor and drink half a beer.”
— Linda Gregg, “The Letter”
do not please shut me/into little corners of this/crummy life.”
— Ophelia Dimalanta
April 29: “Fall” by Dorianne Laux
I’m tired of stories about the body,
how important it is, how unimportant,
how you’re either a body
hauling a wrinkled brain around
or a brain trailing a stunned sheen
of flesh. Or those other questions
like Would you rather love or be loved?
If you could come back as the opposite sex,
what would you do first? As if. As if.
Yes the body is lonely, especially at twilight.
Yes Baptists would rather you not have a body at all,
especially not breasts, suspended in their hooked bras
like loose prayers, like ticking bombs, like two
Hallelujahs, the choir frozen in their onyx gowns
like a row of flashy Cadillacs, their plush upholstery
hidden behind tinted windows, Jesus swinging
from the rearview mirror by a chain.
And certainly not the body in the autumn
of its life, humming along in a wheelchair,
legs withered beneath the metallic shine
of thinning skin. No one wants to let
that body in. Especially not the breasts again,
your mother’s are strangers to you now, your sister’s
were always bigger and clung to her blouse,
your lover’s breasts, deep under the ground,
you weep beside the little mounds of earth
lightly shoveled over them.
From The Book of Men (W.W. Norton & Co., 2011)
we hold each other tight, create
safe space, inside the city night.
i’ve got your back.
there’s no moon. you’re
my birthday gift, or i’m yours. somehow,
there’s no judgment here, no fear
or shame. in the quiet dark,
when you take my hand,
our strides match.”
— Kat Heatherington, “Stride”
So we sat on the porch
in the cool morning, sipping
hot coffee. Behind the news of the day—
strikes and small wars, a fire somewhere—
I could see the top of your dark head
and thought not of public conflagrations
but of how it would feel on my bare shoulder.
If someone could stop the camera then…
if someone could only stop the camera
and ask me: are you happy?
perhaps I would have noticed
how the morning shone in the reflected
color of lilac. Yes, I might have said
and offered a steaming cup of coffee.”
— Linda Pastan, “The Happiest Day”
We gaze into the night
as if remembering the bright unbroken planet
we once came from,
to which we will never
be permitted to return.
We are amazed how hurt we are.
We would give anything for what we have.”
— Tony Hoagland, “Jet”
A soul, geologically
The longer we stay here the harder
it is for me to see you.
Your outline, skin
that marks you off
melts in this light
and from behind your face
the unknown areas appear:
hills yellow-pelted, dried earth
bubbles, or thrust up
You are the wind,
you contain me
I walk in the white silences
of your mind, remembering
the way it is millions of years before
on the wide floor of the sea
while my eyes lift like continents
to the sun and erode slowly
After Paradise by by Czeslaw Milosz
Don’t run any more. Quiet. How softly it rains
On the roofs of the city. How perfect
All things are. Now, for the two of you
Waking up in a royal bed by a garret window.
For a man and a woman. For one plant divided
Into masculine and feminine which longed for each other.
Yes, this is my gift to you. Above ashes
On a bitter, bitter earth. Above the subterranean
Echo of clamorings and vows. So that now at dawn
You must be attentive: the tilt of a head,
A hand with a comb, two faces in a mirror
Are only forever once, even if unremembered,
So that you watch what it is, though it fades away,
And are grateful every moment for your being.
Let that little park with greenish marble busts
In the pearl-gray light, under a summer drizzle,
Remain as it was when you opened the gate.
And the street of tall peeling porticos
Which this love of yours suddenly transformed.
Topography by Sharon Olds
After we flew across the country we
got in bed, laid our bodies
delicately together, like maps laid
face to face, East to West, my
San Francisco against your New York, your
Fire Island against my Sonoma, my
New Orleans deep in your Texas, your Idaho
bright on my Great Lakes, my Kansas
burning against your Kansas your Kansas
burning against my Kansas, your Eastern
Standard Time pressing into my
Pacific Time, my Mountain Time
beating against your Central Time, your
sun rising swiftly from the right my
sun rising swiftly from the left your
moon rising slowly from the left my
moon rising slowly from the right until
all four bodies of the sky
burn above us, sealing us together,
all our cities twin cities,
all our states united, one
nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
Sun and moonshine, starshine,
the muted light off the waters
of the bay at night, the white
light of the fog stealing in,
the first spears of morning
touching a face
I love. We all lose
everything. We lose
ourselves. We are lost.
Only what we manage to do
lasts, what love sculpts from us;
but what I count, my rubies, my
children, are those moments
wide open when I know clearly
who I am, who you are, what we
do, a marigold, an oakleaf, a meteor,
with all my senses hungry and filled
at once like a pitcher with light.
— Marge Piercy, “If They Come in the Night”