grief

they mar our rainbows with death
they color outside the lines
so we can no longer see
where the boundaries are
our long held hopes
barely showing under the scars

in the morning house
the rooms do not feel the same
as they felt last night
the floors were discouraged
I heard the walls lament
and the ceiling sag

this morning
they are silent
as I move about in bare feet
as I seek out my breakfast
they have little to say
about last night’s losses

Insufficient

I don’t know what else to say, except I love you, Manchester

*****
I have said nothing to anyone about Brussels. I have been
silent, as I was after Paris. (I should have said something)
(anything)

What is there to say-how much is enough?
(Mumbai, New York City, Cameroon, Boston, Ouagadougou,
Jakarta, Manchester, Tanta, London, San Bernardino,
Istanbul, Oklahoma City, Chicago-
do you have time for a complete listing)

I know that anything I say will be insufficient and vague
in comparison (to the truth)
[put up next to what they need
more than words]

If it were me, if I was there, I imagine
I would be as silent as now, wanting to
scream but instead- zombielike- tidying up
walking through what is mundane and useful
and cleaning up the atrocity of violation.
[(This is not yours. Why
do you insist on breaking it to pieces)
is as close as I have come to words]

Are you not tired of the raging?
I weary of the anger, the pure hate
that does not end
always simmering, sometimes boiling over
yet constantly being refilled, that tank-

What can I say? Who am I? I am your neighbor, weeping for you.
My words feel small. My anger does not feel
sufficient

Too soon

Scene from 1983:

Me: I don’t think I’ll live to be 25.
Mom: Don’t say that.

7 a.m.  on a Sunday morning 1997:
Dad on phone: She’s gone.
Me: It’s too soon.

It was you, it was you
gone too soon
so cliché
pardon me if I don’t
come up with
golden lines
at times like this

I would say you were
ripped from us
but it was more like
a fade-to-black
with screaming
your face melting
into the wallpaper

Don’t go yet
it was supposed to be me
hanging out with Peter and Paul
you, oh you
were supposed to earn
your old age in your rooms
in your house
beneath the pines

Extraordinary kindness

approached today
in the midst of clouds and clamour
by my mother(gone since 1997)’s best friend
from long ago

my age now what her age was then
yet I am always a child, the
age of her own daughter
grown, and a grandma now

speaking to me as an equal
saying – let’s be friends like
your mother and I, I believe
we have something in common

melting the cynicism in my center
floating to the surface like dross
her soft voice saying, yes
it’s going to be alright now

Threnody

(2016)
For Mom

I remember the day you told me
it was no good
the end was coming
and all the miracle hopes
and treatments were done

you were calm
you were ready
and I wasn’t
skidding my heels
dragged to the church a month later
baby in my belly
to see something that was not you
you were gone already-

then later
in the garden when
summer came again
I saw you alive in my son’s eyes
then again in a field
of clover and cornflowers

Do you fear the fire

(2015)

For Mom

Walking through the woods
you spoke of fire.
Of course I had noticed it
the lack of green
the scent of the foray
of pitiless flames
and the ash beneath our feet.

A dream, perhaps, upon
opening my eyes and
seeing your feet again
walking amongst the flames
a frantic dance for life
and after, the renovation
your attempt to cover it up
with a smile and a flower.

I was so happy to see something
colorful, blooming, my jaw
went slack – when the flower fell
from where you had taped it
to the scorched vine.
Yes, you fooled me
this little comfort of red petals
among the endless black.
“But black is your color.”

Black was the color of cool,
and calm in a time when I
could not settle myself. Tailor-made
for me, the crisp lines of black silk
and white cotton was enough
to blur the smudges of
soot on your cheek and forehead.

I was not there for you.

Here, let me.
And grabbing at the rose, I
moved too quickly, the thorn
piercing my finger
a reminder to wake up.
“You have blood on your
shirt”, you said, “wake up.”
There is work still to be done.