Prayer

This entry is part 75 of 92 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Spring 2011

 

If some are born to sweet delight and some
are born to endless night
, where is the noon
where they might crisscross paths? A sparrow
tumbles from the eaves and auto-corrects
its flight. O wind, perilous as the pulleys that work
their hidden influence on our journeyings,
be gentle on these frail, tired wings.

 

In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

Layers

This entry is part 74 of 92 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Spring 2011

 

Sulfur and sweetness, relish and bite:
you know it’s that good when you cry
from pleasure. Light a single votive

as you chop and mince: it helps to muffle
tears. The husk is a paper tunic, a skin
to wear like another language—

like the woman in Oregon who woke
from dental surgery surprised,
speaking with a foreign accent.

It means the house for what we think
we know is made of swirly layers—
see all those rings that fall away

on the cutting block when you
slice crosswise through? I like to think
that everything we’ve touched,

touches back; and vice versa.
See how a bug has left a red
swelling between my knuckles—

I’ll put some salve on it
until it subsides; then finger this
new site of rescue absently for days.

 

In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

Mineral Song

This entry is part 73 of 92 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Spring 2011

 

“There are tears at the heart of things, and men are touched by what human beings have to bear.” ~ Virgil, Aeneid

Oh love I want to lie in your lap full in the sun,
to bring everything I have that’s querulous,
tremulous, divided from this air dripping
with nectar from the tulip trees in bloom.

Will I remember what this moment
might have been? So often the world
overturns in the bowl of the spoon.
Its silver flashes like a warning at noon.

And still I forgive its afflictions,
what it sows, hard and bright:
salt and ore in the heart of things.

 

In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

Reverie

This entry is part 72 of 92 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Spring 2011

 

Some days, I dream a snatch of a poem
standing on a rocky cliff, waiting to rebuff

a tsunami. Only a little phrase, language
rubbed with the odor of the sea, a spray of oil,

a veil of orange. For now, everything is warm:
too warm, too still, too soft from lying in the sun

with its mouth open, waiting for what brings
the coolness of water. The bird on a twig

with its breast rouged red is a prayer.
The bird is a question, or the bird

is an answer; or the bird is a letter.
It flies away. There’s always change.

 

In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

Thanks too, to Risa Denenberg for her piece today.

Aubade, with Sparrow

This entry is part 71 of 92 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Spring 2011

 

Some days I am nothing
but a hand clumsy at Braille,
feeling for eyelets as I fumble
for the laces of shoes in the dark,
for all the loose ends and bones
of my dislocated selves. A sparrow
chips away somewhere, dutiful
at the task of widening its own
corner of morning. I hear it and
want nothing more than a handful
of seed to bring it home.

 

In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

Foretelling

This entry is part 70 of 92 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Spring 2011

 

Someone— who?— years ago
traced the lines on my palm to read

by candle-glow what the crossways meant,
the breaks, faint spiderwebbing wrapped

around the edges of my hand to say
how many children I would have,

how many loves, how many times
the heart would bend to the swallowtail’s

random dance. What coins changed
hands, what turn of fortune spilled

its fickle evidence of numbers
on the table? Some years are silken

threads that loosen quickly from flimsy
moorings; some years are patient

caterpillars inching up the rough-barked,
bunioned trees— Any day now a god

might unfurl its wings to rend the canopy;
any day now, that radiant and elusive life.

 

In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

Trauermantel

This entry is part 69 of 92 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Spring 2011

 

“You write to become immortal, or because the piano happens to be open, or you’ve looked into a pair of beautiful eyes.” ~ Robert Schumann

Nymphalis antiopa (Linnaeus 1758)

Little herald of the soul, more sedate
than the hummingbird who comes
in search of sugar, who flashes in and out
of the emerald leaves to drink
nectar from the throats of flowers—
you circle the porch and yard three times
before coming to rest behind my chair.
At first, I think your name has come
from the same springs as reverie,
that wistful song spun from childhood.
And it could very well be, though your
bistre cloak, sooty umber edged
with blue or white, lies open like the covers
of a book of reckoning. The chimes
clink half-finished tunes in the garden
and I hold my hand over my heart
because I know it knows no rest:
it does not want to mourn what
passes from this life, just yet.

 

In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

Night-leaf Tarot

This entry is part 68 of 92 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Spring 2011

 

A change of linens, pillows plumped and
mattresses flipped over, spritz of mist

smelling of warm cloves and milk— then finally
I might fall asleep. Sometimes, deep in the night

it rains; and in the morning I find it hasn’t been
a dream. Tarot waiting to be read on a wet

driveway— random lilac, red maple; sharp
green spades that cradled gardenias: what

do they know of warnings and misfortune?
Leaf of the cherry, red heart, organ of fire:

I name you as if I could thread your bones;
I name you not knowing your mystery.

 

In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

Letter to Myself, Reading a Letter

This entry is part 67 of 92 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Spring 2011

 

Yellowing aerogramme passed from hand
to hand, creases striped with naphthalene dust,

salt-tang over sleepy villages— here’s
the broken line of hills, the sweep of coast

caught in a curl of cursive, shadowed
cul-de-sac of consonants bent at elbow

and knee. I’ll never know again the knotted
lace of curtains behind which we as children hid,

convinced the sounds behind the heavy doors
were the dead coming to claim our souls.

Here in a sunlit house not my own, I polish
the furniture and floor with oils smelling of fruit

until the heart of the wood is glossy
as an oriole’s song, and the rooms

where you come to me again
are a palace of leaves. Summer light,

thick as honey, pooling in squares at our feet:
we ask to be touched, before being taken.

 

In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

Redolence

This entry is part 66 of 92 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Spring 2011

 

Delicacy: The faintest tinge of flavor, the way
I know what words can make you blush.

Mostly for their smell, last summer I planted
verbena between the mint and roses.

The weeds look almost tipped with silver
and the moon is a penny, coppered thin.

I sit in the window bay waiting for the heat
to dwindle, to sweeten in the clover.

Do you know why the green herbs stitch
their tiny shadows on the sill?

After the storm last night, all the lights
went out, down the length of the street.

Warm amber, warm musk, sweet
hook: your scent in the dark.

 

In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.