Posts Tagged ‘betrayal’

            title from William Shakespeare, The Tempest, Act III, Scene II



I have a Caliban locked in my heart,

a child of the moon. He reminds me sometimes


of all the beautiful places he’s shown me—

the heart’s clear springs and its riches.


How we loved each other then.

There was a time he would offer


to lick my shoes. There was a time

I would follow him everywhere.


I invited him to sleep in my sheets.

I would rub his wild scruff till he purred.


I poured him my best wine in my best glass.

I sang him to sleep. There are some betrayals


we will never forgive. Or so

we tell ourselves. Now he is insolent.


Now I’ve built walls. Now he’s rebellious.

Now I’m master I’d rather not be.


It was so much more wonderful then

when we were friends, when I trusted him


and delighted in the most primal parts of me.

And though I lock him up now, he reminds me


through his cage of the sweet airs of the heart

and the music inside us that longs to be obeyed.



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Something in me rails against the word inevitable,

wants to root for underdogs and impossibilities.


But everything and everyone lets us down sometime,

and we meet the inevitability we would rather not know.


Last week, it was the potatoes. When we went

to harvest them, we found them abundant


in the sandy earth, but with their red skins pocked

with black scabs. That’s where the sorrow comes in.


Later I learn Black Scab is the common name

for the pathogen. There’s something almost comforting


in calling things as they are. I learn

that when peeling the potatoes, if I peel deep enough,


eventually the dark spots disappear.

And the potatoes taste delicious, somehow


more potato than the potatoes in the store.

The sorrow was just a surface thing, not like


the letter I received today outlining the betrayals

of a friend. How I longed for it to be a surface thing then—


something I could peel and find the core still good,

still full of nourishment, still unmarred.


How impossible it felt to call things as they are.

I longed for the potatoes to be like auguries,


omens that everything would be okay,

I wanted them to be portents that when we dig


there is treasure to be found, though

it may not look anything like we thought.


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My son cuts the rhubarb while I
hull the strawberries. We sing
scales and talk about hacking.
That’s a lot of sugar, he says,
as he pours the measuring cup
into the mixing bowl. I think
of all the things I wish I could sweeten.
Just today, I kept returning
to the same bitter views.
It was like touching a bruise
to be sure it still hurts.
It still hurts. I think about how
the Dalai Lama might tell me,
go ahead. Pick up the burning coals
and throw them at the man
you think deserves them. Of course
the only hand to get hurt is mine,
but all day, I reach for the coals,
even now as my son and I
turn our talk to growing things.
This summer, we’ll harvest
our own rhubarb stalks after waiting
for three full years. I try to turn
my thoughts toward sweetnesses.
My boy. The honey of singing.
The way that the ground brings forth
what is green and vital,
year after year after year.
The pie fills the house
with a wonderful scent
as it bakes, the marriage
of sharp and sugar. You can’t
bake a pie without fire, I think.
I leave the coals where they are.

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