This was written after I completed a five mile hike and then picked up a volume of Elizabeth Bishop's poetry to enjoy once again on a sunny afternoon. My answer to Bishop's poem, One Art. In this thing called losing, Bishop said we become masters And that losing isn’t a disaster. No, Not a disaster. Losing socks and such stuff. I’ve lost earrings, bracelets, Expensive ones too, didn’t care Beyond maybe a minute or two. And no pain beyond a stab of nostalgia Did I have upon saying goodbye To three houses and two cities. And yes, it was no disaster To bury my mother, A father who really wasn’t, The man who really was, First one brother, then the other, Then lastly, a wife. With each, my body and soul Savaged by a hurricane, catastrophic, yes. But no, no disaster. Except perhaps, yes, I’ll admit, A tiny bit of soul eroded From the waves of each hurricane Breaking over me as I buried each. And nothing, nothing did I master. Except, maybe this— I did not look for them Since they were gone, Emptied of this earth. Now, there is you and I look for you In everything I do-- Every sunset Every sunrise Every in between time. I look for you in strangers, In cars I pass along the street. I look for you at festivals, In films I see. I look for you in places, In the sky of Ruidoso, In bars, In restaurants, In the eyes of strangers, I look for you. I look for you in all this. And in this thing Called losing, In which I am well-schooled, As are we all, I have tried to make an art, To make an art of all this loss. Yes, this may be no real disaster, But Bishop lied. There is no art in losing, No art at all, That I can find to master.
The wind and rain stopped by last night, Had a few minor temper tantrums outside As I stood watching from the door. They slapped the trees limbs around a bit And kicked at bits of loose trash in the street. Nothing more violent than that. No pushing down trees. No pummeling hail. Rather calm for a storm. Yet it killed the heat of summer, Murdering it without a hint of passion And ushering in a cold windy day To begin the fall to winter. At dawn, I stand here, Warming myself With this cup of coffee, Mourning a summer That passed without passion.
Tell me a truth of burning flames. Better yet, Chant me all the truth Of a holy rosary. Or would you whisper a truth Of a head on a silver platter. Perhaps, you’d like to Express the truth Of a dance through the city. Or act out the truth In the washing of your hands. Could you do all that, Plus destroy a temple or two, And it be the truth Of your heart? I know you say it would But no bushes burn, No seas part, No lepers heal, No dead rise When you know nothing Of your own heart and soul.
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So now we know, You told me I wasn’t, But I was— Your creation. Said you loved me Just the way I was— But was it true? Yes, I was perfect Just the way I was— You said, But you didn’t care for: My curly hair, My dresses, My high heels, My red lipstick. So, I became a cut out, Of the rest of my parts With the parts you inserted, A sewn together woman. Then electrified and brought back To life by a love you claimed Was for the true me. Now the parts you inserted Die away, shriveling at the lack Of your electricity. I stumble, A stiff-legged walk to your door, Shuck this graying shit and warm myself By the fire I create to burn These rigor mortised parts. Thus, I become something more akin To myself once again— That little stranger With curly hair, Wearing dresses, High heels, And signature whore red— I become My little one.
This red heart cedar stump,
With its dark crevasses
And holes where bugs had homes,
Was sanded smooth.
A urethane finish added for shine
The rings are visible still,
Rings that count the years
Until the tree fell in a storm,
Twisted from the earth
By tornadic winds.
Thus, I found it
In the yard.
Took the chain saw to the tree,
Cut it into chunks,
Along with the others that fell
That day while the dog and I
Sought shelter from the storm.
Now I sand and chisel away.
Routing out some hearts concave,
Bowls to be used for filling
At some future date,
Now standing empty.
Sanding some hearts level,
Tables to be used for holding things,
Yet these are empty too.
All this red heart cedar,
Once stood filled with life,
Now stands empty.
The requiem played So softly in the background. Our words stuttered to a halt, And we listened to this-- The breath between words Not said in the silence Between us. All the while the strains of the requiem Filled the ever widening space Between the words of lies and truths In the deafening silence. To relieve the pressure in our ears We talked of all the daily banalities Of work, of dinner, of lunches, Of the silly things the dogs have done That made us laugh. We talked over each other Stumbling in a strange vocal dance Until finally tripping into silence Before a final goodbye is said With your lies and my truth unclaimed. But the requiem played still-- And then silence.
In the shadows of the mountains
Where beasts have fled,
Leaving behind cloven hoof prints
In the inky muck of the forest floor
Beside the pristine waters of a rushing stream
Near the fading timberline here,
The scent of decaying pine bark and musk
On a faint icy breeze
Weaves all into the forest primordial.
Nothing human can be found
In a fear filled chest.