1. November in D. C.
The gas-fed ‘candle’ will not burn
In St. Ann’s of Tenleytown,
For all I’ve paid my quarters.
Some other pathway in I need
Through the brief days of brown leaves
And stubble, along these traces of the dead, A stairway down the heartbeats into some Deep way of blood and pulse,
Inside of the inside.
There I’ll forge a way toward prayer for you,
My dear one dead,
Mother-in-law, mother more to me.
If I toss a grappling hook
Back into the years with you,
Some twich of elemental touch begins.
Yet I know your gentleness will need great quiet
An owl hoots as I sit and listen inward–
Bird of your spirit–
So round and open were your gray-green eyes
In their folds of skin in perfect almond shape.
Not a seance I want, but a oneness with the mingled notes
Once at the other solstice
And half a world away
We sat with coffee by your patio lilac bush,
You speaking your bell-tones of soft high German.
A bee lit on the skin of your wrist.
Motionless we stayed a ponderous long time
While it cleaned its forelegs of pollen,
Turned antennae north and south,
And finally flew off.
“She didn’t sting me,” you said, “And I didn’t kill her.”
Forbearance, and recovery of spirit–
Your own soft spoken versions of them—stretched [no stanza]
Beneath the laughs that bubbled out
While you bounced around the living room
To offer treats.
I hope to feel them now,
The very ones, and thus
I pray for you,
Or rather, with you.
For why should the blessed dead need any prayers of mine?
A muddy pond of perplexity
Is all my offering mind can be, and yet
I crave to bring you some efflux of me
That might attend and complement
The recursiveness of your happy state–
I crave to ask if you would say my name,
As you always did when you opened the door
And drew me in,
And set the kettle on to sing.
Dies irae? No, that passed you by in afterlife, I’m sure.
You’d had enough of wrath and tears
In two world wars,
Refugee flight, hunger, loss of all belongings,
Hitching rides on trucks,
Children dragging at both hands,
Brother’s death and father’s,
Husband’s temper fits and anguish landing on you– Years of scrambling for a lunch
Of seagull eggs and small potatoes gleaned
Forbearance, and recovery of spirit,
Laughter even, somehow yet you found.
Recordare, Jesu pie–‘Remember
We are the reason for your earth sojourn–
Ne me perdas illa die–do not lose us’
In the night where we might not find
To touch hands of mind and air,
Beyond the end of tears.
2. Place-Time Unposted
Louischen, Dein Kaffee, bitte sehr, und Marzipan,
Es ist nicht wie Du denkst–
Take marzipan, and coffee, dear,
It’s not how you think among us here
Of the inside in–
Joy nodes in the humming we are, no two alike. [no stanza]
The all around that we are, it hums,
It sings, it curves down rounding,
Endless outspread–each of us glittering a piquant color.
On the roll of the curving star clouds we billow,
On the curl of the rolling nutrinos we zip twitch–
Our black-float light place surges nowhere, allwhere.
We are the swirl of the ‘yes’ and the ‘you’ and the ‘we together,’
Down inside in.
Out again always we surge to the green of a burgeoning,
More out to a knock down rock,
Yet further out to a black cold lump, interstellar,
Outmost out to a bound heart dead.
Then again begins the surge back in,
Through darkness hovering,
Through light to a pull down pulse,
We in the one,
We each one,
Each point all light,
All place no place,
Down to the shimmering inmost in,
Tight bundle rounding,
Beaming it–for instance–your way,
You adjoin us near
On the space-time valulines, the near side end side
Of reality rhombozoid.
In the air we touch your cheek,
In your eyelids we float,
In droplets falling breast to toes
We lathe you.
In Danzig I felt these touches from the other side,
My grandmother’s breath on my cheek, mint sweet
As she took care to be
While she fed me her last noodles
In the Kaiser’s time,
In my eyelids my father’s back in a window lit,
Image that warm-washed down me in soft bath water.
But in Zopot we talked of other things,
In our sand baskets
Chill on the beach–
Or walking downvillage for gooseberry torts with cream
And the Danish coffee.
Guenther Grass might have talked of them,
Strange man, that messer of his own nest– We didn’t think well of him in Danzig.
Now t’siuss, my dear, go well and safely,
All your way home.
3. Bird of Her Spirit
Thanks to you for the company, Uhu,
Owl who glide past my window
Almost brushing the pane,
Your flight angled for the roof overhang
Where you will nest and brood, come spring.