One of the loveliest, more complex poems I’ve read in a long time. Thank you thank you for sharing your abundant gifts and vision.
She started school today.
Gold sparkle shoes.
A lavender shirt, bell sleeves, skirt of delicate flowers over leggings of a dark pink, motif of tigers at the ankle. Enormous Hello Kitty backpack over her slender, already elegant-goodbye shoulders.
“I do not want to go to school,”
“you will have SO much fun”
lying about both the fun
and my enthusiasm.
I could not get to my car fast enough,
the tears hot like river-lava, unstoppable ~
as though someone had died.
I thought… perhaps I have died.
When the child grew in my body I lost my fucking mind. I did not sleep for 7 months. I went to 6 emergency rooms for suicidal impulse, was an in-patient for a few days of living Hell.
I took drugs that did not work.
I did not gain enough weight.
I was told she “might lose IQ points” because of the drugs/medication but that I of course needed to take them anyway.
No one measured my thyroid, which turned out to be so hyper it is a miracle she made it. People with those numbers don’t sleep. They buzz and humm and go and go and go.
But no. I was insane.
And I was indeed.
She was born, fierce force, hungry all the time. Perfect. Perfect beauty, perfect nurser, every hour eating and eating from the breast. She could not take enough life into her body.
She hasn’t changed. She is the same at almost 5 as she was at birth: life life more life. She speaks like an 8 year old, has the vocabulary any parent of a 10 year old would be happy with; she dissects moods like a scientist and has a Goddess-cruel streak that runs the family like a toddler-matriarchy. She is the mascot, the feared one, the adored one. She pronounces and announces; she uses the word “sarcastic” often and correctly.
She looks exactly like me, and has sophisticated opinions about my mascara, my manicures, my heels. She is a dictatorial femme and I absolutely worship her.
May your brilliance and strange strength carry you to horizons infinite, adventure without end, curiosity with no fear. May your life be the embodiment of Love, and Happiness. Remember to not ruin people with your wit and beauty. Go easy,
Je t’aime. Toujours.
No one sang it like her.
When she spoke to the river, that river had to speak back
what choice did it have?
The Rev. Al Green, Billie, Ella, Stevie, Dinah.
In a country that elected a racist and a fascist,
puppet of Putin, these names are the mysterious
unifiers. Count out the pathetic group so recently
disbanded, beautifully outnumbered, at the White House,
count out the (supposed) president himself,
and who among us does not love these strange geniuses as family?
Aretha’s voice is recall, pain, heartbreak, faith in a God so gorgeous
any atheist turns pious in its presence. Sex, too, of course: the memory
of it, the euphoric falling
and the flatline miserable heart
break of departure.
We all have, I suspect, experiences that would not be the same in memory
without her. For me, it was riding for weeks on a motorbike through the Cyclades with my first Great Love.
More recently, her caress and comprehension while bent over in griefpain when my
(ex)husband walked out the door. Never will I listen to “I Wonder” the same way –
I am not a patriot. My spirit is in France, my body will follow.
But it is this country, its root-twisted history of kidnap
torture, forced labor, economy built on the casting-out
and the caging of countless thousands, intermixed
with a God both real and convenient
and that odd characteristic
other countries look at with both contempt and envy:
Her voice was the embodiment of our history:
the history of her people and a preternatural
refusal to hate the deep shadows that brought
this country up from its infancy.
I love Billie because she is broken and still perfect.
She is Grand like Ella, all lung and rasp like Dinah;
she is the party on Saturday night
and the church filled with family the next morning.
Unlike The Rev. Green, she presents no tension between the two:
she held the whole.
Lust in 7 Questions
In what manner is the thirst for the river of his mouth, the pleasure of his salted fingertips, of the same origin as the endless grief to which this body was born?
How does this lower lip blossom, these shining lashes lengthen, skin grow soft and damp while stricken eyes darken at the first moment of his presence?
Why does he not see?
What are ethics, precepts, preconceptions, compared to one long midnight in a room high above a sleeping city, dawn a coy witness to wilted sheets, silk ties hanging like confetti from the bedpost, thighs bruised from a wanting that cannot be granted?
How does one remain embodied knowing touch will never come?
Sometimes when a woman reaches an apex, which is both an expansion and a receiving, the arches and the palms will coil and cramp, like a bird caged too long. And what are my feet, to him?
last night, late
in the large room
that one day soon will
be let to another
lay three sleeping children
One was half propped on narrow
thick curls twisted and damp
at the root of a long neck
was covered in a pink cape
ancient exhausted bear,
his stuffing long hollowed,
resting on lips
that might have
been whispering secrets
with which no human
can be trusted –
had limbs askew
two small legs
curled and still,
hips on a mattress
as a welcoming saint
on the floor.
I was limping
on a swollen knee.
we are casualties.
even our sleep
contains a violence –
like a wandering plane
like the bones
are they children
Or are they living,
like their injured