Amoroso:

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall
This entry is part 21 of 31 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Spring 2013

 

meaning lovingly, as in
the slow caress of music gathered
by hand, breath that suspends
above the strings— unresolved
quarrel, tension in the phrase:
pause prickling with heat
before capitulation—

If you asked me,
I would not compare it
to the chittering of birds,
their sudden flight from underneath
the canopy, but to the silence
that follows in their wake
as the light decants to sweet,
rich, dark like sherry—

 

In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

Flaming Heart

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall
This entry is part 22 of 31 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Spring 2013

 

These are the words used by a woman in my yoga class
to describe intensity of feeling: the kind that is
untempered and so always burns too much, too fast,
too hot; the kind that does not seem to understand

you can’t just drive a fist into the nearest wall,
scream I quit (or just scream and scream) in the middle
of a crowded restaurant as silverware and chairs
clatter to the floor, then run off sobbing into the darkness

without any sense of where to go— But it is important to know
that this same flaming heart is not exactly the opposite of balance,
or more precisely that balance is not indifference nor the negation
of any feeling at all. I think I know what she might be trying to say:

which is perhaps the recognition that rage and joy, despair
and soaring hope, are faces of the same goddess dancing
on a bed of burning coals, her naked feet not flinching,
her million golden arms circling and lifting, then lowering

and still. Everything in between, I don’t need to be told,
is suffering. And I think, didn’t I cut myself open in just
the same way when I was young, didn’t I find the world
unbearable, didn’t I want to run away or throw myself

on some pyre of oblivion for the sake of wearing
the reddest, most radiant welt on my sleeve— my anger,
my helplessness and pain, my tenderness and loneliness
for the world to acknowledge? One afternoon

in college, I remember telling my philosophy teacher
(whose mind I greatly admired) as he shared an umbrella
and we walked to class in a downpour how I couldn’t
stand people in general
. I no longer know what prompted that,

but now I flush, realizing that he looked at me with genuine
kindness and not the pity or contempt I thought was surely
the only thing his open face could signify. Miserable
after class, I suffered in silence from that unguarded

disclosure and sat with others in the damp courtyard,
only half listening as my peers tossed back their Breck-
shampooed hair, volleyed phrases like dialectical
materialism
in between puffs from clove cigarettes

then launched into their usual rants against society,
the sham government and its puppets, the whole petty-bourgeois-
bureaucratic-capitalist machinery. Who was it started poking
randomly at a wasp’s nest in the hedge, among the kalachuchi?

I wanted to walk away, wanted to yell at them to stop,
but also I wanted to watch for the inevitable— for the insects
stung to high aggression to emerge in a fist-shaped cloud:
wildly pulsing like a heart, unmistakeable in their raw anger.

 

In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

Fledgling

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall
This entry is part 25 of 31 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Spring 2013

 

Darling, don’t scold. Warblers flit from tree to tree, garrulous about something. What is there to fight about? The glaciers are melting. Yesterday’s roses are full-blown— ivory and cream, blood-red, damask. Five out of eight movie trailers in theaters downtown depict apocalyptic worlds. There is a new laundromat that just opened two blocks away; you can smell the fabric softener in the air. We’re young and poor, already middle-aged and poor, forty before forty. Or are we? Supper doesn’t have to be at seven. Supper doesn’t have to be served with the thin gravy of abstinence, the plain hard rolls of buckle down grimly to business. The price tag isn’t the price tag; it’s the pinch of salt on a pillow of plain noodles, the gold serif of butter on a handful of sweet peas; summer’s warmth on blackberries at the bottom of the wine glass. Two can live as cheaply as one and still grow fat on the surplus. Let’s use the one good piece of china rather than have it gather dust on a cupboard shelf then break from the earth’s unsubtle tectonics. There might be days when I’ll sit with my face to the window, not moving, not saying much, just listening. Promise that you’ll toggle the blinds open, heat some soup, bring tea— anything green, anything to soften the brittle bud, coax the flower open again in the cradle of the cup.

 

In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

Endleaf

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall
This entry is part 27 of 31 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Spring 2013

 

Mine is the wooden bowl
and the drink drawn by the hand-pump
from the spring; and the slippers left
by the kitchen door for entry into the house—

So when I come in from the heat,
I do not argue with the darkening
pages of the day when this body
wants nothing more than to sink

into the folds of a sheet,
an envelope of water, a book
held open at the mark as quietly
as a wood satyr’s wings.

 

In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

Fire Trees

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall
This entry is part 28 of 31 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Spring 2013

 

See the fuzz of cinnabar moth caterpillars
on the trees, thick as human hair? Be careful
when you gather leaves at their base

for burning— One fell near my nape
and rested there all day, quiet
as a regular burr. At night my skin

burned hotter than a drum of coal,
grew blistered from the itch that spread
like fire. I cannot remember where I stood:

next to the guava? the avocado tree?
the perishing lime? They said Button
your shirt all the way to the collar,

girl. I did, dutiful as a curl of smoke.
But past the gate, out on my own,
my fingers loosened the stays.

 

In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

A Shadow

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall
This entry is part 30 of 31 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Spring 2013

 

A haunting, C. tells me, is the return of the same shadow.

Under the heavy veil of mosquito netting, I’m not sure I want to hear the rest of the story I know will follow, though she’s told it a few other times before.

Each time is disconcerting. I don’t completely understand yet this need to circle the unknown again and again, even if it is frightening.

There was a woman, she begins. She must have been in love with your mother. Her name was J.

I have seen a few photographs– she has very short dark hair, eyebrows that look penciled in. Dark mouth, bony shoulders.

She came every Friday after work to visit, even after my father had married my mother. As the hour got later, they must have asked her to stay for supper.

How long did this go on? I cannot remember what I’ve been told; except, one afternoon, almost as soon as she arrived, she poured a packet of rat poison into the coffee she was served.

C. tells me: In the kitchen, there at the old round wooden table. She had written a letter, and it was found by the police in one of her pockets. I want to know what was in the letter but no one seems to know.

I don’t want to listen to what comes next— how in the months that followed a cab would pull up at our gate, the driver insisting that a woman had telephoned to be picked up; how a hand would materialize from under a mosquito net such as the one that made us a little cocoon in the dark.

Who is that plucking at a sleeve, trying to touch the sleepers who are still very much awake?

 

In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.