The Swim Mask

Did you take delight in the sound
of the belt on my bare legs?
Did the red welts please you?
Did you hear my stifled weeping and rejoice?

Or were you just grouchy for having
to welcome
us into your home
—you can’t turn family away, after all—
resentful of having your space invaded
while Mom and Dad got back on their feet?

Would it matter to you now, after 35 years,
if I told you
what I told you then?

Auntie, the lens of the swim mask
was already coming
out of the gasket,
and I was only trying to fix it.

No, I wasn’t hiding it behind my back
because
I was to blame—
I was hiding it for the same reason
prey conceals itself from the predator.

Blue

Blue mist, bluer stillness,
rising up
from the hollow

to the ridge where I wait
not wanting to return
to the blue house

on the hillside where
he still sits inside shaking
from the effort of squeezing

my throat until I turned
blue in the face and finally
he let go and I left with

nothing but a pair of blue
jeans, huddled here turning
blue as the night chill

comes on, night coming
to hide the guarded faces
of those who hear and know

and do nothing but sit behind
windows translucent-blue
with age and wear

and hope that someone,
somewhere, sometime
will do more than hope.

Sunday Morning with Hayden Carruth

Carruth_bright wings

Today I woke and tried
to write some poetry.
As usual the words
wouldn’t behave themselves–
I gave up writing
to drink mimosas
and watch the soft rain
bead up on the driveway,
run off into the yard.

It dawned on me that I’ve seen
a lot of news video clips
of the Middle East
and in nary a one is it raining.
A lot of dead bodies bleeding
into the sand, but no rain.

I don’t want to see it anymore.

The dead bodies, that is.
The rain I can live with.

After the rain stopped
I picked up your book and read,

“Bright wings disappearing,”
and it reminded me why

against all logic,
against my better judgment,
against the way of the world,
I still write my quiet lines.

 

We haven’t spoken in years.

We haven’t spoken in years.

And the last time I saw you
at the yard sale, as you walked
among the collapsible tables

fingering the unwanted odds and ends
of someone else’s life, I couldn’t bring
myself to meet your searching eyes.

Having nothing to add
to what was said before,
I hid myself around the corner until

you finally picked up two crystal wine glasses,
a nickel apiece, and you never guessed
that I was there, watching, remembering.

Mary Oliver: The Morning Paper

mary-oliver

 
Read one newspaper daily (the morning edition
      is the best
for by evening you know that you at least
      have lived through another day)
and let the disasters, the unbelievable
      yet approved decisions,
soak in.

I don’t need to name the countries,
      ours is among them.

What keeps us from falling down, or faces
      to the ground; ashamed, ashamed?