Talking to Grief
Ah, Grief, I should not treat you
like a homeless dog
who comes to the back door
for a crust, for a meatless bone.
I should trust you.
I should coax you
into the house and give you
your own corner,
a worn mat to lie on,
your own water dish.
You think I don’t know you’ve been living
under my porch.
You long for your real place to be readied
before winter comes. You need
your collar and tag. You need
the right to warn off intruders,
my house your own
and me your person
my own dog.
This time, be careful.
They have removed all the stones
That you used last time.
I have ironed sheets
and put green pears to blacken
on the bottom shelf
of the oven. Come
alone or with another.
That doesn’t matter.
My mouth is open,
all my loose teeth are sharpened
and the cake is baked.
Let’s pipe the icing
into red blobs like bloodstains
and call them flowers.
Pull the shutters closed.
We’ll lick and suck the white hours
until you ripen.
Follow the thin bird.
Stay in those flapping shadows
and you will be bones.
Inside An Old Book Of Poems By Mistral
Part of me lingers here,
a garment of loose script
on the fly leaf, an unhemmed draft
of something or nothing.
This book has been stitched
by hand. Its paper stiff;
but your voice groomed with a typeface
sounds like a Bohemian dance
from the South.
Your lines often sing
of an ocean wind, shore birds
and bell towers looming
over vineyards ripe
with black grapes, a maiden’s love
for the basket maker.
Yet , that silence in-between
tells me you are there
listening to stories outside
your valley beyond
the stone fortress
of Saintes-Maries-de-la Mer.
And maybe, you hear mine —
a woman tattered in her own verse
struggling to find insight, gain closer
access to you. Carefully, I thumb
through all these pages,
your breath fanned in the lamplight – emitting
a faint blend of tobacco and dust.
~Wendy Howe, via Terry Windling
Full-Length Portrait of the Moon
She could be any woman at all,
caught off-guard on-guard.
With her hands stroking or strangling and maybe
with her intentions half-interred.
But she is as she is. Her gaze is always
filing away at its cord.
And what she’s really after
is you to love her.
She forgets who she is.
She could be so small
she almost has no smell.
She feels like anyone at all.
When you walk up to her,
she keeps quite still,
but what she answers to
is never loud enough to know.
Eaten away by outwardness,
her eyes are empty.
They could be watching you
or not. They work indifferently,
like lit-up glass and if you ask
why she won’t speak, why should she?
When what she really wants
You know what women are like:
Kay, Moira, Sandra.
They move through a dark room,
peering round under
the hoods of their names.
She could be either of those.
She scarcely knows.
She goes on thinking something
just over your shoulder.
This could be the last night
before you lose her.
But what’s the use
of saying one thing or another.
When what she’s really after
is you to love her.
One bright sunny morning;
In the shadow of the steeple;
By the relief office;
I saw my people.
As they stood hungry;
I stood there wondering;
If this land was made for you and me.
A map of the world. Not the one in the atlas,
but the one in our heads, the one we keep coloring in.
With the blue thread of the river by which we grew up.
The green smear of the woods we first made love in.
The yellow city we thought was our future.
The red highways not traveled, the green ones
with their missed exits, the black side roads
which took us where we had not meant to go.
The high peaks, recorded by relatives,
though we prefer certain unmarked elevations,
the private alps no one knows we have climbed.
The careful boundaries we draw and erase.
And always, around the edges,
the opaque wash of blue, concealing
the drop-off they have stepped into before us,
singly, mapless, not looking back.
When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.