New Year's Eve
It's hard to have resolutions
When my life is so unresolved
Dear A Formerly Dying Butterfly,
you were always the Fragile One.
When I was six
I named the Waterfall after your eventual death:
the falls of mortality.
Your wings would pulse a drumbeat
in steady rhythm
a Harmony with your breath,
skin folding like paper.
When you lay, wings broken,
I never knew how really
you were until you were mostly Whole again.
and now I can’t help but to clutch you
as close to my heart as I can,
—Lily Raper (13 years)
At Kummenlanke the waters have unfrozen
after a week of prolonged sun.
I ladle my cupped hands. I drink
a long time. It tastes
like earth, stone, fire. It permeates my body
waking my bones and blood. I heed
their moaning question
oh—what is that marvelous thing
which just happened?
—Eliza Bishop Steinbacher
awoke to the warmth
pink and freckled
sunken into yesterday’s cup
cold and sweet
for your hands
and my fair skin
to tumultuously meet
and here I am
pressed against a door
waiting for a cab,
maybe something more
but the sky is dark
as it should be—
and my eyes are dark
as they are
so pink and freckled,
cold and sweet and far
Take My Pride
I pay rent to this land, just like your great-grandfather did.
I crease my papers over again pacing outside the courtroom while
my children weep in a cage at some border town, south of
those purple mountains majesty we never reached.
Mountains that frame the path just beyond that desert
filled with the melodic drone of crickets
that, burrowing in the soft sand,
never let us forget, even for a night,
that our footsteps, that our very existence
That given half a chance, your government can and will,
eviscerate our dreams.
Those dreams we thought had half a chance to soar.
But now those
implode in this foreign town
where I’m still pacing, still wringing my papers and
staring outside at a pigeon,
willing it to carry my story, like a kernel of truth,
to your television sets,
and make you realize,
I pay rent just like you.
I’m just a little short this month.
Suddenly, spring doesn’t come.
Suddenly, the day lacks poise.
The sweet connection falls apart,
And what was song is noise.
This life is truly but a shadow.
Friends and love appear and fade.
Around us what seemed firm
Is frailty, and what shone bright is pale.
We lift our heads to meet the day
And what in dreams is dread
Awake is foggy, cold, and gray,
A warp of tangled thread.
I miss you now my heart’s sweet dream.
I miss you now forever.
But there is nothing to be done.
Alas, not now, or ever.
In calendar rows a day is mapped with one
box, proceeding rightward, white, and straight.
Days lie, side by side in sevens, trapped. So, done:
the brunch, the job, the plans, in numbered date.
But ladies, men, those Quaker-gathered guests
are gems, who form a sacred quiet gift
who make a necklace of gentle, reverent breasts
linking bead, with bead, where spirits lift
to learn our days are jars, not square, not white,
preserving vivid scenes in a priceless sphere
holding nested gems in bowls, refracting light,
where colors from a fragile vase appear
Rectangled paper row? Bejeweled china bowl?
Know a death will come, may pulverize the whole
Thank you. It ended
too soon but you made
a warm night warmer,
the sidewalk seem
softer, the streetlights
brighter, though not
so bright as your eyes
when I stole a glance
or two at them, and
you touched my arm
as you said goodnight
and sparked a small