In the Country of Lost Hours

This entry is part 41 of 93 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Summer 2011

 

And the sun stood still, and the moon stayed…
~ Joshua 10:13

Here is the country of all
set-aside longings, the place

where non-leap year days go to bide
their time; here is the island

where minutes shaved off from each
early appointment have come to rest,

alongside every stitch in time
that saved nine. In spring

and summer (except in Texas or
St. Petersburg during White

Nights), each day delivers
an extra hour of daylight,

along with the newspapers
and milk. Barely any winds

disturb its flags, hoisted
on threads light as thistle-

down. Barely a tremor twirls
the weather vanes in the shapes

of planets and stars:
they merely revolve, calmly

in place— mouthing mantras
of patient waiting.

 

In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

The Road of Imperfect Attentions

This entry is part 40 of 93 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Summer 2011

 

“… Hide me in the shadow of your wings.” ~ Psalm 17:8

We wake when the light has touched
the window-blinds, or to the sound

of wheels skimming early across asphalt.
And it is as though another day opens,

one door among many in passageways so long,
even the industry of carpenter ants might

falter. It is so hard to heft a pannier
of provisions from one gallery

to the next— But sometimes I think
I glimpse a familiar figure up ahead, robed

in saffron: gesturing Get up, shoulder
the load; keep pace, keep moving along
.

Time teaches a lighter tread: or
the body bound to gravity must shed

layer after layer. What progress is tracked,
comes only in the manner of what’s discarded:

powdery frass, fine shavings of wood
highlighting paths we’ve tunneled.

 

In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

Migrant Letters

This entry is part 39 of 93 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Summer 2011

 

Yes we are fierce, yes we take our
possessions with us wherever we go,
especially the ones you cannot see.

In the city at dusk, in a one-room apartment:
the former teacher remembers his childhood
friend and childhood sweetheart, and is moved

to write a poem; there is rain in it, and rice
fields. At a restaurant: the woman who has not
seen her child in years, hesitates as she lifts

a soup spoon to her lips. How does a bowl
transform into an ocean of salt and misgivings?
Its shallow depths are the sign of constant

uprooting, its ripples the sites
of the sloughing off of many skins.
Where will you be tomorrow?

Just when I thought you would stay, a letter
arrives with another forwarding address.
Have you a grandmother, a babushka,

a lola, a nonna? She sits in a doorway
or on a porch, feeling the light on her lids.
Sometimes, pennants of color and noise flit

through the trees, like words in another tongue.

 

In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

Going to the Acupuncturist in the Market

This entry is part 38 of 93 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Summer 2011

 

“Earwigs, of the order Dermaptera. Dermaptera is Greek in origin, stemming from … dermatos, meaning skin, and pteron, wing. It was coined by Charles De Geer in 1773. The common term, earwig, is derived from the Old English eare, which means ear, and wicga, which means insect.”

Despite the throbbing in your temples and
the growing migraine heat behind each pupil,
your job is to find the second alley to the right
in the direction of the old Hangar Building.

You will pass the butchers and meat-sellers,
their garlands of sausages hanging from hooks
surrounded by adoring flies. You will pass
the widows with their baskets of bitter

melon, banana hearts sheathed in purple
husks, yellow squash flowers wilting
in the heat. The one with the glass eye
tells fortunes. If you find yourself among

the sellers of grain, you will have walked
too far. Turn back and look for a narrow
passageway between the noodle shop and
the shoe repairer. Watch for the weathered

green door and follow the steps to the third
floor landing. Don’t mind the old men smelling
of tobacco smoke or incense hunched on the bench,
eyes closed, motionless as tokers. The acupuncturist

waits under a naked bulb in the room. He bows and holds
a pair of silver calipers aloft like a wizened insect.
He swabs the inside of each ear with a cotton ball
dipped in sterile fluid, and picks the tiniest

tacks from the tray of needles. He twirls them
into the rubbery folds of skin where they’ll lodge
for a week under the topmost crease of your ear
and probe the meridians of your hidden pains.

 

In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

What You Don’t Always See

This entry is part 37 of 93 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Summer 2011

 

“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for,
the evidence of things not seen.” ~ Hebrews 11:1

I am the sheen of the egg after it has dropped its sun
into the heated pan. I am the cool underlining the day.
I am the dry, cracked bodhi leaf that fell from the tree

under which the sage closed his eyes and made a perfect
circle with his finger and thumb, and now lies in a frame
bought at the temple gift shop. I am the trill of a cricket

craning its body toward autumn in ninety degree heat.
I am the hunger that swerved like a bus on a switch-
back trail, so the hens and the goats being taken

to market broke out of their makeshift cages,
scrambling into the bushes to safety. I am
the tremble in the arc of the pendulum weight

as it hums from the tension in its silver wire.
I am the dream that flickers beneath the eyelids
of the child who wakes then names the events

that unfold. I am the filament that lodges
in the throat, tasting of salt and bone. And I,
I am the clock that stops just short of despair,

the zipper’s train whistling to the end of the track
and back; the shirt that fastens all the way to the top
so fingers can loosen the tiny buttons a little, or a lot.

 

In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

Epithalamium

This entry is part 36 of 93 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Summer 2011

 

“There is no one to bless this.”
~ Matthew Rohrer

The velvet of the tongue against the roof
of the mouth, the smell of apple blossom—

I don’t quite remember what was said about
the life we’ve been given, for the touch

of fingers on my wrist. Who will witness
this perfect morning, clear and cool?

Sunlight splinters, translucent in the leaves
like handfuls of flung grain. In the woods,

the animals take provisions to their den.
I sign myself over: I do, I do.

 

In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

Milagrito: Eye of the Raven

This entry is part 35 of 93 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Summer 2011

 

“Milagros are religious folk charms traditionally used for healing purposes and as votive offerings in Mexico, the southern United States, other areas of Latin America, as well as parts of the Iberian peninsula. …[T]hey can be constructed from gold, silver, tin, lead, wood, bone, or wax. In Spanish, the word milagro literally means miracle or surprise.”

Dear red striated muscle, vascular and
slightly bigger than my two cupped hands,

I saw your image stitched and stuffed as a well-
worn pincushion with the legend “There

is a place in my heart for you”. I cringe
at the thought of needles; and also because

I know that every eye, finger, bone, or body
part left by the wayside altar means something

has been sacrificed, given at cost for another’s
due. Crow feasting on that bit of severed

flesh, do you stop your fevered work to notice
the day is overcast and cool, doused with

the creosote smell of rain? It doesn’t fall,
only makes threats that cast a pall on our

determined plans. And your rejoinder comes alongside
calls exchanged by ravens: how mystery is never led

nor haltered, but even the bird clothed head to claw
in ashes, flashes a tin orb: a jewel in its drusy eye.

 

In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

Orison

This entry is part 34 of 93 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Summer 2011

 

Overcast sky, the rain that falls
elsewhere. The canopy of electric sound
cicadas weave throughout the trees.

You have me scour the pockets
of such moments for some remnant
change— and here I lay them down

and balance them on a rim of glass.
A silver-spotted skipper drinks
from the bergamot and I want

to tip my face toward the flower’s
starburst cup. So long at work,
and teetering from one impossible

task to another. I count and recount
an abacus of spilled grain, water flowing
from a sieve: o gather me now in.

 

In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

Letter to Stone

This entry is part 33 of 93 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Summer 2011

 

Dear constant chafing
under heel and ball
of foot, teach me patience

for the long, slow simmer
under water, in the wild;
teach me the inward-

turning gift of each
lunar hollow, smaller
than the eye could reckon.

Within the pebbled garden
where monks rake labyrinth
upon labyrinth, juniper

and pine open in the wind
to praise. Shingle and shale
upon the beach: buffed

by seafoam and crowned
by the gods’ careless spit,
you’ve promised

like a lover to mold
me smooth, to lilt me
quick across the water

to the other side.

 

In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

Landscape, with Incipient Questions

This entry is part 32 of 93 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Summer 2011

 

Question-mark Butterfly (Polygonia interrogationis)

The underside of every moment is a shimmer you
might hear, but not see: curved and silvering
as an echo of bells at sundown, mottled

or muffled from mallet-blows. When the last
of the herd is driven into the barn, the man
latches the gate and washes up at the pump.

Shadows streak the linen on the supper table.
Shadows soften the winged bodies in love
with the dangerous heat from the lamp: listen,

they frame most of the questions at this hour.
In the corner of the room, a woman dozes off
in an armchair. The knitting has slipped

from her hands. The child by the window
has brushed her long, black hair and gazes
at a wilderness of stars in the dark.

 

In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.