Saturday, January 29, 2011

Working the Night Shift

After I work a night shift
In the morning I head home
After hours in dank air
Moist and warm from all these
Sleeping bodies breathing
Their dreams to me
In long slow heaves.

After I work a night shift
I am staring red-eyed into sunrise
Using my last energy to get me home
While the world around me
Awakens refreshed with dew,
And I want only for the dark to return,
To cocoon myself in my dreams.
I drop the drapes, shut the shutters,
And let the air-conditioner's droning
Drown the day-light noises.

written August 1992, edited January 2011

Friday, January 28, 2011

Sedoka 1-- tattoo of rain

Cold tattoo of rain
hits the north-facing window:
the rat-ta-tat of drum sticks.
the sounds of snowflakes
softly on the panes of glass
Swish like brushes on the snares.

Written and published January 2011

The Rosh Hashanah Toothache

Oral surgery the day before Rosh Hashanah
Meant I could not eat apples
Nor many of the festival foods
I usually cooked.
I mostly lay in bed in pain,
Sleeping when the pain meds worked;
Moaning when they didn't.

You made me applesauce
From the apples I had bought,
Spicing it with honey and cinnamon.
I lit the candles and mumbled the blessings
Without moving my jaw,
And thanked God for you.
That simple act of love moved me
More than a whole garden of flowers.
That night I kissed your fingers
that still held the delicate fragrance
Of apples, honey, cinnamon.

started September 2011, completed January 2011 
(*On Rosh Hashanah ,  we say a blessing and eat apples dipped in honey) 

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

I Wake to Love

I wake to love,
And surely I must be dreaming:
This world that had been draped
In drab colors, muted tones
Of a half-lit world like winter
With the half-hung sun
Making a half-hearted limp across the sky.
Now colors come alive,
Swim in swirling exultation!
I have to walk around and smell and see
This world morphed into beauty.
I feel like the caterpillar
That had folded into its chrysalis
Only to emerge with variegated wings.
I pinch myself again and again
To waken me from this dream;
But eventually I come to realize
It was I who had been dreaming before,
And now I have wakened to love and life.

written and published on poetfreak July 2010

My Daughter, My Spirit-Self

Before your birth, I thought of you
As my spirit-self.
First on MRI images
I saw you acrobatic
Below the soul-searching amniotic seas,
Dancing in the dark with stubby limbs like fins
Side-stroking and butterflying,
Yet I could not feel even a flutter.

Then when your first kicks
Surprised me with life-lightening leaps,
They reminded me of those jumps
I made as a child
In descending elevators as they landed,
Giving me the thrill and feel of flying.
For days after I waited
And prayed to know again
That quiver of awe and ardor
Believers tremble with
As they stand before God
Shaken with joy.
But by the time it was all done,
Your movements were like hiccups
(Can it just be over already?)  

So at home inside me,
Your due date passed.
And still you clung to the comfort of darkness,
To the umbilical that fed without effort.
You swam in a narrowing pond
Until an abrupt lurch broke my water.
You were being sucked out the drain
From the placental pacific world.
Birth became a life-and-death struggle:
My body, throwing the baby out with the bath water,
As you clung to your lifebuoy all night.
Twenty hours of labor and still you wanted none of it.
Afraid of this new element,
It took pitocin drip and brute strength,
Suction and forceps to loosen that grip.
You emerged holding your breath till blue
Then angry as an almost drowned cat
Shivering and screeching with fists pounding
The cold uninviting air,
Your mouth gulped like a fish leaping
Into the blue sky and landing by mistake
In the bottom of the boat.
Wrapped in vernix, blood and birthday suit,
You were sporting the trophies of the fight:
Hematoma on the crown of your head
And forceps brand across the brow.
My bruises were mostly internal, psyche-deep.
Exhaustion and relief
At your strength and health
Covered all other reactions in those first days.

Later my Lamaze coach and best friend
Revealed her terror in that room,
As she had seen how touch-and-go it truly had been.
But I was too happy to indulge in her fear.
I was floating on a euphoric cloud for days,
With visual hallucinations and heightened senses
That I first took to be the dawning of motherhood.
But later I slowly came to realize
These were left from the near-death experience.

As I gazed into your dark eyes,
I knew you were not my soul at all,
But your own person, separate,
Yet always connected through
The hardship of birth and the river of blood,
The unremembered depth of shared rhythms
That only in dreams awaken.

October 2009

Monday, January 24, 2011

Playland in Winter

Steel gates creak
As cold winds speak
And sweep through the turnstiles
Past the sign, “For Sale”
Next to the carousel
Where the worn horses lie in piles
But paints crust
And gears rust,
Bringing the price down.
The blue Northern swipes
Through the calliope pipes,
Making a humming sound.
But it is out of breath
And out of tune;
Still the merry-go-round
Begins to turn,
While its steeds still yearn
With hooves pawing the ground
To gallop away
To fields, Hooray!
Neighing the only sound.
They do not feel cold
nor their getting old
As their wooden hearts pound
Only for children to ride
With legs astride
So merry, go round,
The wind's winding down
Go round, merry, go round!

1980, revised completely July,2009; , published on PoemHunter August 2009 and poetfreak

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Puente 1: snow erases

all scents
from icy air
but for pine and smoke

~snow erases~

all hues
from a landscape
but one cardinal...

written and published on poetfreak September 2009

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Leaving Rose Hips

The last of gardening for summer ends.
Hoe and trowel, knee pad and sunbonnet
Hang in the shed with the shears.
The final petals of the rose have fallen,
Leaving rose hips,
Like tiny crabapples
With a crown of rumpled hair
And calyx now dry and stiff
As a starched collar
Trying to hide the crimson berry
That stands erect upon the high
Seat of the peduncle.

I gather the petals for a sachet pillow,
And press them in books
To mark the poems I love
With summer's fingerprints.
Then make my tea with those rose hip
Berries and honey,
The last taste of the season.

October 2009

Cathedral at Dawn

Dark angels hover at windows
Until the sun showers the stone cold floor
with rainbows.

written February 2011

I Long for You

I long for you when I sleep alone.
Your scent envelops my dreams,
So that I awaken aroused;
Ready for you, my love;
Ready for you.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Rain Forest Exiles

Hidden in a thicket
Of bamboo's dense leaves:
Was it to muffle the raucous
Squawks and screeches?
Or give green comfort
To these rain forest exiles
That yearn for the moist domain
Of the high canopy?
Inside cages were stacked
From floor to ceiling
With beaks and talons grabbing
The bars, clipped wings
Fanning the fetid air.

I thought I was seeing
The world with Gaugin eyes:
Scarlet and indigo,
Gold and emerald
Littered the walkways and under the coops --
Like bright tears from the eyes
of their Mayan gods,
Who abandoned them here
To become pets.

 started May 2010, finished September 2010, revised January 2011

Saturday, January 8, 2011

A Waltz Wave: Blood That Turns to Wine (revised)

like sweat,
bleed from stems
of the
bud tree --
drops that turn
to claret or port.
Not one leaf
from the
green spikes so
at twigs'

 A fragment written March 2010, finished January 2011

Friday, January 7, 2011

Tanka 16: hair washing

having my hair washed
I relax in the massage
of my lover's hands
imagine I'm being rowed
gliding to a place unknown...

published on PoemHunter August 2009

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

When the Nose No Longer Knows

"I can't imagine living here
With this scent of bread all the time.
Doesn't it make you hungry?”
My friend asks as we amble 

Through the golf course
To my house where I live 
Across the river from Mrs.Baird's 
That covers a city block
And has wafted yeasty fragrance
For so long it no longer
Registers in my nose.
It's like the smell of air,
The taste of water,
The feel of my own skin.
I have forgotten it is here,
And ask, “What bakery smell?”

published first January 2010 on poetfreak