Monday, November 7, 2022
October Interim: Poems
My Long Sweet Fall
Licking Braided Wildflowers
Walking Away from the Cathedral
Losing the End of Us
You want me to stay so you change into Mary Magdalyn and ask will I go to the river. Not the Jordan this time but the one behind the horses. Is it love or are we desperate and other questions nobody ever wants to learn are answerable.
Still, after dark, when everybody is asleep, I go outside. Down the back stairs, past the barn, into the field. The blind horse watches me pass. The moon is a waxing gibbous, my least favorite phase, but moonlight is moonlight, beggars can't be choosers, etc.
I give a wide berth to raccoons rooting in the compost, not wanting to disrupt the end of hunger, and linger by Fionnghuala's garden where dead sunflowers lean over the brick path she started and abandoned. I miss growing up. Owls cry downriver, are they beginning the hunt or is it over. When you know you don't know, you know. It's hard to explain.
There's a buried calf around here somewhere. There are tree stumps I mistook for Buddha, there are mistakes I declined to name. Why wasn't it enough? Why isn't it?
You know there is nothing I can say yet you persist with the Isaiahan fantasy there is. Tell me again which one of us is confused about resurrection, you who never met a crucifixion you couldn't pray at on your knees. Chrisoula dreams of a man at the edge of a vast water, gazing into darkness at what she cannot see: me losing the end of us all over again.
Forced to Lean a Certain Way
I want to say something about prayer. About how the birch tree is forced to lean a certain way because of towering hemlocks. Another dead cardinal means what for the happy ending I am still trying to write? Pulled over in Goshen to look at deer in a far field and remembered again learning how to forget. The house smells of lentil soup and bread with sage and butter, October moonlight spills into the kitchen and my daughters refuse to entertain old promises. In a dream Jesus asks is it okay if he works with a woman in Plattsburgh now. What exactly did you think was going to happen? Chrisoula turns in bed to save me, she doesn't care at all about God or my poems or getting anything right except this: this this.
Confused but Happy
Over October Hills
Sometimes there are no words, just the moon rising at dusk over October hills. Cardinal feathers under the porch where the cat eats what he kills. How far away Hank Williams sounded singing "The Devil's Train." When I want her most, Chrisoula becomes most distant, but never disappears. In my twenties I changed "world below" to "world of woe" but it's possible I copied someone. The Jordan is more than a river the way a prayer is more than words and how they go together. I am defeated when she finds me but lifted by our agreement not to let the other die alone. Canadian geese fly south before dawn, their guttural cries as much a language of desire as anything I've ever managed. And it works. For a little while longer it works.
A Promise to Forget Everything
Wind rustles the blonde corn stalks; chickadees fly in and out of fallen sunflowers. There are grasshoppers still. Leaves sail through the cold air. In October, the light reveals a later stage of marriage than we anticipated. Sundays pass digging potatoes. Nobody wants to talk about last winter. Every time we look up, the sun has moved another three fingers west. It bears repeating: everything ends. I think of you often - you would have appreciated the corn stalks; you would have recognized the light. Potatoes want to be found, is what one finds digging them. Are we perfect because we allow ourselves to feel the pain of Her absence or because we are confused and She is not actually missing? Either way, we are not doing this alone. Hawks circle distant hills, moles scuttle deeper into grass. Can you hear the river a little farther north? Will you walk with me after midnight as far from the village as our legs will allow? Finally I remember how to pray. Why do I need you to remember me at all? Silky milkweed prisms float above the garden, the earth is a giant seed share. Imagine a promise to forget everything, up to and including the promise. This happiness, it becomes us.