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Posts Tagged ‘love’

 

 

 

And again I recall how small we are,

how ninety nine percent of all species

that have ever lived are extinct,

how thin our stripe in geologic time,

how remarkable that we are here at all.

And suddenly all that matters

is that I love you—and what are the odds?

How many billion years in the making,

this rush of gratitude, this burgeoning

joy, this thrill in the sheer Cenozoic luck

to feel the concurrent burning and quenching,

the simultaneous bite and salve, the Quaternary

gift of thriving and failing at the same time?

If it feels as if it’s taken forever to get to this place,

lover, it has. Think trilobite. T-rex. Cave bear.

Wooly mammoth. Think how little time

has passed, and how lucky, how lucky we are.

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for Shawnee

 

 

This time the goodbye is in the kitchen,

me running off to the next thing,

you at the counter with morning tea

before you drive away.

I give you a hug from behind

and a kiss on your cheek and thank you

for coming to visit.

 

I want to tell you I love you,

but the words have never

tumbled out easily, not because

they aren’t true, but because

I don’t want to frighten you.

Strange to feel I must hold you at a distance

in order to keep you close,

like a mother bird

who monitors her nestling

from a neighboring tree.

 

I never was one of the mothers

who worry about fatal things:

car crashes, avalanche, infectious disease.

I worry more about the most

terrible thing that could happen,

that you could be alive and not know how

much I love you, fiercely, unfoldingly,

worry my longing

to keep you at ease could

make you feel pushed away.

 

Driving from the house,

it is not the sun in my eyes

that makes them leak,

it’s this knowing that I

have made for you a nest

in my heart where I hold you,

but perhaps what you needed all these years

was for me to hold your real hand,

to wrap my real arms around

where your wings would be.

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She looks so happy with her new baby, all coo

and smile and jiggle and swing.

 

I smile at her, and think of everything

I do not tell her. How the child will grow up

 

to break her heart over and over. How

she will give him more love

 

than she knew she had, and it will not

be enough. How he will hate her

 

for holding a line. How she must hold it,

still. How she will come to doubt herself.

 

How all of us are broken, no

matter how hard we’ve worked to be

 

whole, and how none of us can

carry the other, no matter how

 

much we long to. How she will

beg her own heart, Stay open,

 

stay open. And how some wise friend

may someday say to her,

 

Shut down your big heart

at many a time. It needs to rest

 

while you are awake.

And she will know perhaps by then

 

the truth of love, how it is never

what we imagined. How

 

big a risk it is to love. How

everything depends on this. And how

 

she will weep, someday, watching

another young mother in the park,

 

cooing at her baby, remembering

how simple it seemed, and how

 

perhaps it is still that simple,

a mother, a child, a big world to explore.

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When I met Amadeo Modigliani,

I knew of hunger

what did I know of love?

I was in Paris. On my honeymoon.

As my new husband met with other women

i met with Amadeo, an impoverished Italian Jew.

His paintings not yet famous.

We would walk Parisian streets

in the warm summer rain

and snuggle under his black umbrella

and recite by heart poems from Verlaine together.

He begged me, don’t go back to Russia.

Russia? I said, where is that? It’s Russiya.

Don’t go back to Russiya, Anna.

I did.

 

That winter he wrote me in Petrograd:

Vous êtes en moi comme une hantise;

You are obsessively part of me.

I knew it was true,

that he was more myself

than my own familiar hands.

Back in Petrograd,

I would touch my lips in the mirror

and say my own name

and believe my voice was his.

 

I think of Lot’s wife.

How they told her not to turn,

to not look at Sodom, her home

even as it was being destroyed

but how could she not

turn to the green fields where she had sung,

turn to the bed where her children

were made, turn to the place

of her blood?

 

When I turned back to Paris

because his love felt like home

even though i knew it would be destroyed,

I was not transformed into salt

but into chalk, black chalk, his chalk on paper.

 

I did not know then

how that I would come

to treasure his vision,

how I would tape his drawing

on the wall in every house

i ever lived in so I could live again

between those lines in a time

of wild honey, scent of beeswax candles,

his amber eyes.

 

Amedeo always drew me naked

in long spare lines—

Always from memory when he was alone.

With me, his hands

were too busy for chalk.

 

He’d slip off my dress,

and in my breast,

he’d visit my beloved Russian steppes,

in my waist, he buried himself

in Siberian snow,

and between my thighs,

he was baptized again and again

in the floodwaters of the Neva River.

 

They’d not yet made

a corset that will fit me—

how could it when I

am all of Russia?

 

Oh I loved him. Wrote him poems.

Left red roses strewn on his studio floor.

How airy the light was then.

How I loved being what they would later call me,

 

 

polovina monakhini, half nun,

polovina shlyukha, half whore.

 

 

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April 23

 

 

How do they do it,

the broad-tailed hummingbirds,

arriving at my window

the same day every year,

welcome as spring,

reliable as moon.

 

And what part of me

thrills in their predictability?

And what part says,

a tad too triumphantly,

See, here’s proof,

things come back.

 

I hear the small birds

before I see them,

their wingtips trilling,

I’ve read how the feathers

that make the sound wear down

from use. By midwinter,

 

you can barely hear

their bright hum at all until,

preparing to breed,

they grow new feathers again.

How do they do it,

grow feathers at just the right time?

 

I want to linger in the small

miracle of it, these ears still learning

how to hear and this heart still

astonished at the timing

of the world, how life just knows

when to return, when to grow.

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Why I Move Slowly

 

 

 

Today the weight of love

is a basket of river rocks

I’ve chosen to carry.

 

Though it’s difficult

to walk with this weight,

there’s not one rock

 

I would throw aside,

each unique, treasured.

There are some who walk

 

with an empty basket.

Their burden is light.

They move quickly

 

along the path.

Me, I choose to carry

the weight of love.

 

 

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Punctuated

 

 

 

I keep in my pocket

a handful of colons

 

to pull out in times of need,

you know, for those times

 

when I’m just not sure

what I’m trying to say.

 

That’s what a colon’s for.

It says, “Here’s what I mean.”

 

It’s a way to introduce things,

and you know how valuable

 

introductions can be.

Something’s so fine about a colon:

 

  1. the symmetry, of course,
  2. the simplicity, and

 

  1. the way that it joins

two independent clauses.

 

And what are you,

really, my love, but one

 

independent clause,

and what am I but a second,

 

ever trying to explain,

interpret or expand

 

on the first. And that

colon between us?

 

Two stars in an intimate

constellation. Two points

 

on a map that leads

only in. Twin cherry buds

on an invisible limb

just before they bloom.

 

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Should We Tell Her?

 

 

 

Somewhere in my heart

there is a tiny woman

with a crimson scarf

and hair pulled back

who is balancing

on a tightrope—

she has not yet learned

that it is okay

for her to fall,

that the net

will always catch her,

so she keeps doing

the same boring walk

back and forth

thinking how brave

and how proficient

she is at staying

on the rope,

never learning

she could also

jump and swing

and leap and twirl and fall

and get back up.

 

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Love Lessons

 

 

When the favorite sweater

becomes threadbare at the wrists

and already you’ve mended it

repeatedly: when you find yourself sewing

on top of your sewing and there

is little left of original thread,

is this when you decide

that the sweater is better worn

with holes, that not everything

needs fixing, that sometimes

what is most loved is what

is most beyond repair?

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One Prayer

 

 

 

with no snow

to make snow angels

I flap my arms

make night angels

send them to you

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