To sing feels
like pouring honey,
each song a sunrise
in my day,
when music sculpts
and emotions wake
and find a voice.
Dead air between us,
I can’t hear you, feel you.
The sycamore says
I am held captive in a cave
by the spell of my old certainty,
my first certainty:
all will go wrong,
none will love me,
the sun will turn red
and then black,
the leaves on all of the trees
will twist and turn and fall
in the dark wind.
So now I sit on a stone,
my feet put down roots;
I draw up honeyed sweetness
from the earth
and burst into leaf and flower.
I sing a song,
the dark wind passes,
and you call to me.
Alameda, CA, 2014
Where are you? says
a voice inside me,
and I see you sitting
in my living room
the morning you left.
Part of me
doesn’t know you’re gone,
perhaps the underground river
flowing in the dark,
carrying pain too deep
But no, the river knows;
I am the one refusing,
refusing to admit
you are gone.
When the soul wanders away from the body,
life is water spilled from a broken cup.
What thoughts steal into your mind
in the desperate hours of the night,
when your silver-white soul, the yearning,
feeling part of you, comes to me
and pours out its love and longing?
You hold tight to your desires, intricate
machines fashioned from pride and vanity,
their moving parts useless.
I fear you will not call back your soul,
for if you sailed out on the silver-white sea
that is your soul and all souls, your elaborate
machines would rust and crumble, the lies
that come so easily to you would fall,
word by word, into the salt water and dissolve.
And your soul would inhabit your body
with its joy and tears and its love that expands
forever. But then who would you be,
without the empty machines of your desires?
Oakland, CA 2014
In late afternoon, we gather in her kitchen,
six or seven women, sometimes a brave man or two.
Light-filled room, beyond the back porch
a patchwork of trees and other houses,
a feast on the kitchen table:
bowls of nuts, plates of cookies,
cups of coffee, glasses of lemon-mint water.
Our voices laugh and murmur, rise and fall,
until Elaine suggests that we begin:
a topic is chosen, timer set,
silence descends, and pens are put to paper.
She gently guides us as we move
from one subject to the next; we write
of secrets hiding in the chambers
of our souls, frozen fears, old aches
and open wounds, the stream of love,
flowing or blocked; memories that
charm us, haunt us, move us; courage,
how we bear the unbearable; and finally,
the desires that call to us, that float us up
to the blue heavens. We read our writings aloud,
unless reading the outpourings of the heart
to ourselves is more than enough.
Sacred time, when we invite our souls
to come forth in a ritual as old
as the dawn of language, when the tribe gathered
around a fire in a cave and gave birth
to myths and legends; now we sit in a circle
and tell our stories, rewriting
the myths of our lives.
One day in December each year,
my elderly husband, angry
at me about something or other, as usual,
would walk slowly out to the garage,
using his grandfather’s cane to help
with painful joints;
he’d find the box of bulbs he’d dug up
months earlier, go to the garden,
get down on his knees, and plant daffodils.
Later he would come back in humming
a little song and dreaming
of spring’s yellow triumphs,
his transformation no less miraculous
than when, in The Secret Garden,
one of his favorite movies,
a weak, sickly boy
is brought out to a garden,
previously neglected but now blooming,
and walks for the first time in years.