( This was inspired by Marina Tsvetayeva’s poem, ” Some Forebear of Mine Was A Violinist”)
I dreamt about your uncle, of how
you stole those apricots and placed the blame on him,
dreamt of his hooked nose and his sharp and darkened
I think of that face now and I’m sure you don’t favor it.
But I swear, Marina, in the mirror of winter your opal
eyes look the wild lost of mine.
We are all three wanderlusters. All smell of dirt
and rain, but I have never buried a sick child, never been exiled, and I
have never hanged.
Still, if your forebear stole those apricots through the hands of
you, then maybe he is my forebear too and with his silent violin
he stirs the dark in me.
We talked the guns down in a tight quartered waiting room. The tv was turned off and the young man was sitting there in ripped jeans that were soiled from the deaths of things.
I didn’t know the man when I took my seat but something in the moment was deja vu and I was sure somewhere between the two of us a gun was going to come out and wave and drop.
In the silence of waiting for our loved ones and the terminally ill future of all living things we exchanged our smiles of understanding. He was anxious and I heard bad news in my head.
I asked if he’d been waiting long? No, he hadn’t. Just a waiting on his mother to finish with her mammogram. She has cancer but they can do a lot for that now a days and I nodded my nurses head that yes they can and I imagined the rich and famous and the wealthy with their yearly checkups or their daily checkups and all of the drugs and cures in their hands and I saw this young truck driver dirty from the road with those old jeans.
I asked if they caught the cancer early? No they hadn’t but his mother would have all of the support in the world because he would be there for her just like now but he does have to leave for California tonight to carry a load of useless shit across America.
He tells me he never listens to music when he drives his truck. When he listens to music while he is driving his grandmother dies, his sister dies, somebody always dies. I had to wonder if he was listening to the wrong stuff.
Sometimes when he drives, he take his good friend with him because she has scoliosis like my son. She has it so bad she won’t go in public because in elementary school she was made fun of. That’s when he got started with all the suspensions and bad things and fights. It was because of defending that girl. So now to get her out of the house he takes her on the road these twenty years later. She’s had three surgeries but none helped her confidence or pain. He stops the truck every now and again to make her walk. When she tires out he picks her up and carries her back. She needs the exercise.
I had to tell him that he seemed very kind and maybe he should be a nurse himself. That was when the guns came out. He said that no ma’am, they’d never letter him be a nurse because he is crazier than all them doctors around here. I told him I doubted that but his eyes changed from a soft scared brown to black barrels and he stared at me like a crazy man waiting on some fragile prey to run. News flashes of hospital shootings streamed across my brain and with some strange paranoia I stared back like a crazy mother might do if she was protecting a child and I asked if he didn’t really care so deeply for people after all? Then his black barrels filled with tears and the guns dropped silent to the ground and for the moment he was just a boy who needed his mother.
It was so long ago when
we were happy, two
Cats napping on the sun ripened
It was so long ago when
your hand purred across
my face in place of pain.
So long ago that breathing
felt like we were cats stretched
out across the four corners
of our own earth.
Past midnight with cheap white wine
That comes from a box
I tell my terriers I have nothing to say
Worth putting down really
And they agree but I put something
Down anyway and the terriers agree
I promised them both a sip of merlot tomorrow night from a glass bottle
Amidst the dust of bookshops, wide dispersed
And never purchased there by anyone,
Yet similar to precious wines, my verse
Can wait – its time will come.
Trans. Vladimir Nabokov, 1972
The house was built
Like a bluebird’s nest high in the trees
Where wings take form and fall and fly
The house was placed
Like a spiders eye to see all things
While silk is spun to sense to stay
The house was fallen
Like a tiger’s ground gave way
When buds turn leaves and lift and lie
And the people in the house built a nest
That winter turned upside down; a no one
Never there would not have minded at all
Let me be the nine years underground tree watered diligently by faith blind as the watering hand when the seed doesn’t sprout
Would crows crown me in half of a century and children hide in my shade when the summer is high because of the perseverance of love
A tree that I often walk beneath and snap photos of is showing up in my dreams now that the weather is colder.
In the dream it is leaning against my upstairs bedroom window. In my dream I am sleeping and the tree is scraping its smaller branches against the foggy pane.
Every night in the dream the tree has less leaves then the night before. And the color of leaves have changed from green to red to orange and brown. The branches feel like they are scratching my face and dripping rain into my eyes. It rubs against my skin like steel wet wool.
I think after all of the admiring I’ve done standing beneath it in the spring and summer and early fall when it was filled with glory and immortality it wants me to see it dying. It wants to remind me to take a picture of the thing I don’t ever want to see.
It wants me to let it inside to dry off and nap on my side of the window. It wants to look out at the birds in its nest. It wants to not be forgotten. It wants to remember.
What muscle must we fold in half to
Become the single blade of grass bending
With the wind?
What restraint and composure to lean
Into the will of the air and appear air?
As children we fold ourselves backwards, feet on the ground, back arched toward forever, and our eyes free to scan a world upside down, to see the folded grass eye to eye.
When we are grown the thing left for us that resembles that weightless passion is our fingers bending into our lover’s, our souls flexed so tight into another’s that when the muscle relaxes we find we are air, we are grass, we are dancers.