…poems from the collection, publ. 2011, Weedy Editions
July In the Roman Forum A gray woman steps from a taxicab, a gray woman, head to foot, a basket in her hand, and tools she carries natural as her skin. A thick light links the space between the driver and her--substance and the sparkle of air, and a ritual comfort between them. I wish I could get it back, that sense of them, that taste. I believe he will come back for her in a while. She does not smile, but energy spreads from the easy purpose on her face, the athletic grace of her trim shape. She steps past ruins to join the plot of ground she chose for growing something succulent, brimful, a small square of zinnias in this gray dust, basil and thyme, tomatoes and peppers, lavender. Oleander grows thick and enticing. I imagine she might loosen the ground around their roots, pour water into their mouths, know their leaves. I stay a while to see, and watch her cultivate sharp-angled beds near a half-column and a long-empty well, an old empire sighing off in the fused distance. She, so far from tired, so certain in her pace, points a steady path to that one place.
Mother Refuses a Funeral Her going will be a silence, a door locked, a house re-keyed, the sprinkles of her powder dusted from her dressing bench, her shoes aligned; threads for needlepoint sorted and tied, a plumped and corded handwork pillow, an envelope sealed and stamped, an indexed file; refusal to answer, neglect to call. No words by clergy, no visitation: as though she had a cold, nothing to wear, an argument with the world, a solemn task, she will be indisposed, will not receive guests; will keep to herself, that day.
Dove Flight For weeks I didn’t water Mother’s fern that paled beneath the eaves . Among the wilting fronds two doves sat still in solid watch, ceramic thieves, eyes round and dark and stern. One day the male was gone, the mother crouched beside two downy young, necks thin with spring. I ached at their beginning, fed from her mouth, and watched for flight. I didn’t see their wings-- one day the nest was empty, just in time to drench the fern and coax it back to life. All this coming and going such a fragile rhythm: water and sun, withhold and give, nurse and free . My mother in a darkened room had packed for flight. Her face like polished marble, set past sight.