Much like the pomegranate
you contain multitudes.
You laugh in morsels and
to love you is pyrrhic,
for in your hands is panacea
concinnated like pearls on a line.
You’re worth this night and each night —
with straight teeth
you tear apart the pulp of things.
A woman inheriting death
deserves first to taste life.
Not even the Earth
has quite so many rooms.
I imagine holding it
firmly in hand
would do damage,
which is perhaps why
few could venture to rip it
from the sky, say,
or drop it whole into
even the softest palm.
His is a solar wind,
your heart the plum:
the blue dot shivering,
and all along it’s known
itself as just another
in the spinning void.
Is it magic, then,
to be held lightly,
freed from darkness,
and flood forever
those rooms with light?
Dedicated to Hannah Williams, on her wedding day 02/08/2020
I pull from tangled
pale claws nearly dust
to stash in my breast pocket.
Clittering china, I picture
a family of crab ghosts converging
over my pulse, ready to tuck
into their first bloody meal after death;
eye stalks sway in synchrony
raised in prayer to Sea, or
perhaps his brother, Sky.
mingling in my pocket,
I scoop out my heart
and permit you to feast.
Photo credit: Beth Tockey Williams
I now allow myself to write
those velvet throats, those waves of female form,
without discrediting the work
as politic instead of rather than also poetic.
I touch a woman and learn long dead languages, taste her breath and tides pull me under,
where the ocean names my atoms
reminds me all I’d know
if the Earth herself were my politics.
The swamp is my reliquary, and deep within, death and life and death sing across the waters.
She too carries this candor, her body equally unnavigable without submission. I’ve learned this:
How could I see the naked world
and wish it clothed? How could I breathe good air filtered over light years, bequeathed to me by the stars I count beside my lover,
and wish to bottle it? Nothing, not poetry, not politics, will spare me if I cannot spare her.
(For Aaron R Williams)
Places I’ve been would melt you;
the barrenness of iced-over marshes,
the grassy dropping cliffs of Moher
where our mother buried that lock
of your soft blonde hair
and piled smooth rocks atop the shallow grave.
Where our sister cut a lock of her own
and let the wind carry it over the edge
toward the fog-swept Aran island.
People I’ve loved would melt you.
You might have shook their hands roughly,
let them feel the scar on your knuckle.
You’ve been gone now much too long,
we’ve searched strange landscapes for blue,
rare but for sadness and your eyes.
Why must every drop be saved for the sea?
Voices I’ve heard would melt you
into a strange raw fear of
phrases like butter that warm on your lips,
but you cannot speak another word cannot
break the filmy membrane
between the living and the dead.
Had your voice been carried over Irish farms
and rung in the caves of the south sea,
had they sung into our mother’s wind-chilled hands;
instead we had only your name,
whispered over the cliff edge to drift on the waves
until at last it sank with a grief so deep and dark
it put the sea to shame.
For the month of September I will be living and working off-the-grid on remote Loggerhead Key with my mother, Beth Williams, a signature member of The Pastel Society of America, as the Dry Tortugas National Park 2019 Artists in Residency!
Our hope is to complete a manuscript for publication consisting of prose, poetry, and pastel and oil paintings all inspired by the Dry Tortugas’ effervescent marine landscape.
Wish us luck, and don’t use straws!
Mr. Angelou received nightly
a hot dinner, a kiss, and 7 hours worth
of writing to proof-read before bed
in the motel room of the week:
as thanks, perhaps, or simply
out of love.
Proof that out of love is better than in,
at least with uncaged birds.
At night, I worry about missed connections. It was possible something minutely divine was at play, in the vein of spying the last ripe avocado, or ripping the tag off a new shirt. Life just seemed a little better for the sinfulness. A message here or there, a provocative dream, a craving late at night when they were each alone. If only they knew what was a beginning and what was a detour.
Last night I worried about guardian angels. Are they ever disappointed in us? Why do they stick around? What if they don’t get to choose who they are guarding; maybe if we don’t connect with them they disappear.