This entry is part 62 of 92 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Spring 2011


Honeysuckle in the shade, the day’s
hot store of oils cooling gradually into dusk;

then unexpected rain: thin drizzle a screen
through which late sunshine sifts,

the kind of rain we were told as children
was the spray of tears from God’s eyes.

And the mingled smells of heat and coolness
rouse the blades of memory from their hiding places,

where the musk of your breath mingles with
my own. Each glaucous leaf of the bleeding-heart

cradles its perfect droplet of moisture,
and the air is full of questions. Sometimes

I cannot bear to think past them, to pry them
loose from their trellis of hope and doubt and fear.

The volatile tea-green smells of soap rise up
from the little drawer where I keep fragrances

among the linen— I take out just one leaf
of scent and give myself permission to loosen

the stays from their clasps, the buttons like stars
plucked at cost from their hammered settings.


In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

Series Navigation← Song of WorkLandscape, with Wind and Tulip Tree →


6 Replies to “Balm”

  1. …”the buttons like stars plucked at cost from their hammered settings.” Lines like this objectify the “balm” that is either the memory of “hopes and fear and doubts” or the steeling of one’s heart to their lingering presence. They cannot be hammered shut, and taking them out of the confines of memories, they are the little fragrances that provide the balm to the “blades of memory (that skulk) from their hiding places.”

    The oblique ambiguities are a minefield of nuances. It is so rewarding to dig into them. The long lines harden the image of the hesitation that occasions the prying loose of memories from their “trellis”.

    This is Luisa’s most intriguingly beautiful yet. Bravo! (Can’t wait to write the day’s poem-response.)

  2. …the air is full of questions. Sometimes/ I cannot bear to think past them, to pry them/ loose from their trellis of hope and doubt and fear.


    Do you still keep the bladed questions
    in your closet’s little fragrance drawer?

    When you bolted them last, they were
    struggling to break out as a conspiracy

    of fearsome pain that could break you.
    Why test your fearful heart once again?

    Gather them like twigs, kindling sticks,
    and burn them with the brittle promises.

    Past days have no way of turning back,
    they travel through dark one-way streets.

    Only those bladed questions will return.
    Will their cutting edge be blunted then?

    Spare your balsam for the dead and dry
    days: when they descend, you will need

    your balm to salve the hurts that have
    yet to come. Leave settings hammered.

    —Albert B. Casuga

  3. I wish there was time to read every one of your poems. I am always transported, transfixed. So beautiful, this…

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