Ground Cherry

pick pick
echoes
tick tick
daylight burns
ashes ashes
falling
down

the sky is
so blue
against you
yellow-
brown
nearly
sepia

from what vintage
from what
cold clear bottle
did you pop
from cherry cola
from spicy mustard
or from

the mother
not too soon
to forget
belladonna
beneath
the stars
dark green

shoots
arrow
to rib
poison
to vein
atroph
y

by the
nightshade
you are
so good
goodness knows
with love
comes

sacrifice
contentment
with twilight
lying
in wait
for slipping

off
shoulder
your dress
to the ground

Afterglow

 

The sun had come down, but not out.
It was the bulb of a projector, casting
cool, blue light from its core; except for
lacking an electrical cord.

Where did the heat come from
that changed the surface of the moon
from swiss cheese to a flat screen,
capable of displaying our vitals?

A reddish tinge across your cheeks
told me the answer — 100 degrees,
and counting down. From the minute
you walked up, imagining the peak.

We were sitting close to each other,
under the pretenses of just wanting
to share a large popcorn and soda.
You hadn’t had sugar in six weeks.

An hour after it happened, I joked:
“The vision of you undoing my laces
may be my undoing. Oh, so delicately,
your fingers untwined the knots.”

Now, several days after it happened,
I have exhausted the limit of images
on the “beauty of tight binding,”
pretending an interest in macramé.

I have laid the first and only move
in single player Cat’s Cradle,
betting on you to pinch my Xs
into the Jacob’s Ladder.

So, what do you say? Let us play —
until the sun comes down,
and afterglow fades; or, at least
until we have run out of shapes.

With luck, perhaps, thereafter.

I Know Why the Grass is Green

 

When we first met, you were fifty-three,
And not yet retired from ploughing;
Still, your itch to get out was stronger
Than the bite of briers or holly,
And the 2-for-1 gloves strong enough.

Called in from the garden, you sank
Into the sofa, a green velour piece
That needed no breaking in, steeped
As it was in smoke and grit;
You immediately felt at home.

Beside your son, stoicism failed.
You experienced his joy and purpose
As one, loving me like it was 1969,
Back when pastels were for babies,
And also for everyone else.

Once held, I met your gaze, hoping
To uncover something borrowed,
Myself reflected in your blue,
And found proof that eye color
Can skip a generation, or two.

My other inheritances include:
Your quietude in conversation,
How you walked the periphery
Of the pool, before jumping in
Good humor to ripple the room.

Your special consideration of lilies
And Queen Anne’s lace,
How you saw her in everything
That she would have loved,
And each time fell to pieces.

Your indelible softness.
How you mellowed with age,
They say, like Jell-O, or a plum
In the sun – a prune? Wrinkled,
Yes, but stronger for it.

When we last met, you were seventy-three,
And not yet retired from ploughing.

Matilda

 

Standing
on the surface
of a pancake
then, swimming
in a pool
of syrup
deep as pores
on sugar
ask:
“How much do I care about blemishes?”

More than the soul,
the body recalls
the rich sensuality
of cracking eggs,
and stirring batter;
as well as
the “not-so-feel-good-feeling”
of singed fingers
on a hot stove.
Why listen to your parents?

That’s why, or why not.
Child, experience life
with all of your senses.
Taste the lessons
that you teach yourself
first.
In all its bittersweetness,
learn
to swallow Love
like breakfast:

After the morning rush,
to locate what’s been lost.
Slowly, overprepared,
waiting for a soft boil,
into which you drop
your hard-shelled heart.

Sweet Love,
I would have you nest
in my slotted spoon,
and listen to your stories
of feeling alone,
and pancakes.

Imperfect Produce

Late August, given heavy rain and sun
For a full week, it is the moldy strawberry
At the bottom of the basket. Full of beans,
I pick a peck more, and jump. Inside,
There is a moth developing, a roly poly
Now, and brown, but aspiring to gray,
If only for a few days, at summer’s
End, when the first cool, but frostless
Night ushers in the red and purple
And blackened fruit, which one (?)
Should not eat. I am not one.

They tell me to be she, who sheds
Her coat, and waits for the foliage
to turn yellow; I wait outside —
A balding hill of potatoes, turned
Green, through osmosis (?)
Of the clippings on this murder
Of crows. Interrogate them
Regarding the spots and rot, beg:
“What is going on with my garden?”
Roots and shoots and leaves, but
No children, excepting/accepting
Those born still or imperfect.
“Am I too old?”

At twenty-five, one should be quiet
About her fears of impotence and death.
I feel that I am not one, but two times,
And change. I change the way my hands
Look: she has become unstuck in time is
Of the essence: a term used in Business,
Real Estate, and Agriculture, namely
In the period between IUD removal
And the encroachment of invasives.
Is seven years enough to determine
how many rows : how many roses
will produce the best returns?

Return me to childhood, in early September
When the next season was growing season,
And, so too, the next and next;
When my one-track mind could focus
On the present, and the presents
That I might open on my birthday;
🎶 Happy Last Day of Summer 🎶
When I could tune out their cracking
Corn, and care for nothing, but
Shortcake, with strawberries and
Cream. It would seem so strange,
Life, but a dream.

Independence Day

There is no better occasion to begin Facing Codependence:
What It Is, Where It Comes From, How It Sabotages Our Lives

Than the celebration of our country’s Independence Day,

For which we are supposed to be endlessly grateful;
Because the outside world is an innately hostile place,
In which there are always forces at work
Seeking to exploit and control.

If I were not so codependent, I might be able to see
That I am so afraid, because of what my culture did to me;
But, instead, I search inside, for the trigger happy child,
Who would rather poke her own eyes out,

Than have him follow while she leads.
There, I find a will to change, and eyes enough to read;
The path will show up by itself.

I highlight the passages that occur in between
What I have been needing to hear |
What I have been wanting to say,
In pink,
Because, unlike red, it poses no risk of flame,
Of igniting passion, rage, madness, or whatever
They are calling women’s feelings these days.

Resentment is holding on to anger at someone,
Clinging to a need to have the person hurt
To make up for the suffering [I think]
He has caused me. The person I resent
Becomes my Higher Power
As I think obsessively
About what he did to me.”

How do I disentangle myself from this mess
[Without waking him up] ?

“Caring does not mean assuming ownership
Of the other’s behavior or following the path
That they have chosen for themselves.
You need to belong to yourself,
and let others belong to themselves, too.”

Step 1: Let him sleep, while I get things done.
Step 2: Find the polish that will match my shoes.
Step 3: Scuff until my heart’s content. Follow the beat
Of my own two feet. Be frantic. Be fun. Be free.  

This Land is Our Land

How many watches had it been,
when I first caught sight of Paradise?

Seven – or is that the first digit
to come to mind?

Regardless, I would have kept kissing the dry land,
until it soaked in my sins,
had you not been
standing at my bower,
with tape
and parrot flowers.

The ship was splintered,
worse that any storm
or winter could do;
my lips, too.

Yet, I was fixed

on the mountains in the distance,
skirted in Doug Fir forest,
and decked with heavy fruits
(pear, apple, persimmon,
perpetually in season),
suspended in mist.

Never had I encountered a landscape,
as hard as it was soft,
particularly at the edges,
where rocky bluffs
terminate to sand,
and primrose grows
in mats that prick,
rather than provide respite
for the sick.

Yet, I was fixed

of the pain I had long-held,
from believing myself unhomeable
outside of childhood.

Or, perhaps, restored

to original condition:
an only daughter of an only parent,
(for which the treatment is
undivided affection
and absolute understanding).

How many men had it been,
when I first washed up on Paradise?

Seven – or is that the first digit
to come to mind?

Regardless, I would have kept gripping the shore,
until I was born into safety,
and then trained out of it again,
had you not offered more:

Your hand, a surrogate for my father.
Your land, for my Fatherland.

 

Walking in the Rain

On a persistent basis,
it will penetrate
your psychology,
making water come
up from the ground,
down from the sky,
and side to side,
at the same time.

As if shaken,
by an unseen hand,
your eyes will twinkle,
and then fade to coal,
your arms will swing out,
into larger and larger circles,
and then snap, as if twigs.

Hello, snowwoman.
You are hotter
than you are meant to be.

Are you sweating
out a fever
or succumbing
to Spring?

Either way,
take care
to know
you are no more
contained to land.

When a mind becomes
flooded with thoughts
outside the body,
the ground beneath
your feet, themselves,
their wet shoes and socks,
their toes united
in commiseration;
they all fall down.

Once all ice is melted,
and run off to the seas,
take pride
to know
you helped reshape
the continents.

Shorelines
as round as your face,
as square as your elbow,
as it hailed a bus
some million years ago.

Answer “Yes,”
to one or more of the following questions,
and you may be a martyr:

Do you feel overburdened, overwhelmed, and physically exhausted, most of the time?
Do you feel underappreciated for all that you do?
Is your baggage heavier than everyone else?

You may be a martyr
or, otherwise, one
who has had enough
of walking for today,
and needs to collect
her thoughts,
lest she forget
that no one has yet
drowned by sweat
or a walk in the rain.

 

 

Signs

When the pencil skirt fits,
but doesn’t sit
at the hips,
as does the cyclist,
who would rather
be caught dead
than with a bulge,
even if it’s just
an extra bunch
of fabric;
and so she walks,
in measured steps,
passing where
the sidewalk ends,
and then, drops off
into dirt,
until the final block,
where precision goes
to posture,
and so go the toes
– over the lip –
and then,
the heals,
and then,
one palm,
one knee,
and the
stack of crepes
planned to be
for everyone.

When the rice is simmering,
and asks for stirring,
just occasionally,
and so she drops
the wooden spoon,
takes up the sword,
and decides,
right then,
and there,
to prepare
kimchi
for winter,
which is yet
months away,
unlike the hand
on the timer,
which begets
a ten-second
countdown,
“Oh shit,”
and the other
on the blade,
“Oh shit,”
there is
salt
in a wound,
and it is time to move
back to the pot,
with rice searing
to its bottom.

When the appetite,
stirs the night,
she slips
to the cupboard,
looks in,
up, top,
middle,
bottom,
but sees nothing
with nearsighted eyes,
which is why,
her past self
put out
the one-half
cocoa-carob
energy bar,
on the counter,
where apparently
it is heir apparent
for ants play,
because something
tastes like
plus two grams
of protein,
and feels like
soda,
“Fizz,
boom,
pop!”
on her tongue.

When she arrives, at last,
not merely late
but also hungry,
and asking
for further
accommodation,
like a band aid,
a courtesy call,
a chance to sit,
it might be
a sign of immaturity,
or being irresponsible,
or at the end
of a misguided hike,
but more likely,
of the universal struggle,
of learning to live
outside the bubble,
where there
are new types
of pressure,
on the air,
to focus
on marks
in the floor,
to tune out
the sink of dirty dishes,
empty the mind,
and then,
get back to work.

Expectation vs Reality

DSC02202
What are we trying to do
with the word picnic?
Take a regular lunch,
and paint it red.
Red as the veins
of ketchup,
that snake the backs
of spineless dogs.
Red as the tulips
that propagate
themselves,
when gardeners forget
to put out their bulbs
… until after Christmas.
What is a date
without Blood of Flowers?
A bottle of Rosé
to keep the reality at bay,
that we are showing
our private hearts
in public parts;
trying to figure
each other out
of a wicker basket,
and eat.
Where are the wild things?
Ants, to make us dance,
in our pants,
A bear to make us
piss them.
Without the hokey pokey,
What is a picnic all about?