I belong to you now,
you with your kindness,
saving my worthless life,
pulling me from the edge
to show me level ground—
no dreamless fall.
How can I thank you—
with my love?
with my love.
I will surround,
and measure you in love.
How will you
ever be able to be rid of me?
I WENT WITH YOU TO A HOTEL MADE OF OLD SORROWS
(for A. M.)
I was the one between.
I wanted you to remember with me that I was quiet and said nothing to the solace, or the gratitude that was exchanged. I was just the observer. There was such a sadness for the beauty that I felt in your touching of hands against each other, alive and true, your eyes longing over the secrets of the afternoon which was fading very softly into a sad farewell, one that would last forever this time.
You were happy then; and so was the one in the memory of that window—the room fading back into demolition—the strange cry that we heard from the stair—which was a warning.
“You’re a very happy person,” you said,
so I laughed to show how happy I was
and went around smiling to prove
how lastingly I was happy
and was so grateful later that night
to chop onions for the excuse of crying.
I have given you my small gratitudes,
wrapped in soft handkerchiefs of praise
for your cornfield and your onions,
and for the nectarines on your heavy trees.
And I have thanked you and praised you
for your useful gifts of toil.
Oh yes, I have listened while you told me
what it took from you.
And I have murmured—over and over,
my praises—my recognition for your efforts
and your giving, which is never measured
by reciprocation, for still you claim
to remain loveless and unrecognized
for your generosity and goodness.
My handkerchiefs weep with frustration
to water all your fields of anguish.
Sarcastic-toned and smiling, biting with her eyes, rathering elsewhere, she tends the table of noisy patrons who will not tone down to order, who ignore, though she waits at their edges with her pad and pencil poised—with her professional way of keeping track, while they call out—over the table—over each other—criss-crossing what they want, or mumbling amid the chatter and the laughter they have brought; but she keeps her temper tight in her smile and somehow wades through them all, even telling a small joke to them, though they are loud and private, and they look at her in a friendly way as, ‘yes, thankyou’, they accept more coffee, and stay and stay.
Going as far as pity
they come to the torn place in the earth
look for the seed in the drop of water
see it there
look upward and give thanks.
They are religious now.
Fanatics with a cause.
They have taken
all the death and forgiven it.
At night they go out
on rituals of loneliness
and choose up sinners.
(They are not perfect.)
They are ragged from living
her old red dress
with sequined hem dragging
making sparks against the stones
he carrying the old weapons he used to use
left over from wars and murders
and self defenses
Going as far as remorse
they tear at the earth with their fingers
the seed and the drop of water
to give to the ravenous bird
with the amputated wings.
And having done with it all again
in the red moonlight.
Thank you for sorrow, they whisper.
(first pub. in Cellar Door, 1979)
My new trees are so grateful
for the rain. They are shining,
surprised to still be alive,
losing their yellow.
I love the sound of wet streets—
the tire swish and the plop plop
of a hard rain—one that can
hold my attention.
(first pub. in Poets’ Forum Magazine)
Let it be new to your heart
and old to your mind—
Let it be meant
to be unforgotten
for it is true—
as true as new can be.
Let its words be easy
on the eye that reads it,
and the voice that speaks it—
for if you let it go, it will never be.