Moving over the morning, the wind heavy-laden with wildflower blows gauze of air and cotton against wakening skin, the blossoming brilliance of the sky rushes out from itself; and She, coming sometimes early, sometimes late — but coming without fail, to taste the fruit incubated by colder days: apple, rose and spice of peach, heady succulence of berries. She stirs among the tall bright and silken grass, the flowers; arms full of herbs and honey-veined petals, wreathed in the abundance of her own fecundity, but then no more than the sun could the things She offers be hers, even as…
Jerusalem, sky-blue and stone
and gold beneath the moon — before I ever
breathed you in, I knew you: your streets
too narrow and too wild for any city,
too ancient to be otherwise;
and haven’t you always
been loved as you’ve loved: by the violent
feet of soldiers?
Breaker of the hearts and bodies of prophets, you have gathered sorrow in those streets, thick and implacable as a crowd that never leaves; for haven’t you long been loved like this: by the tremulous step of pilgrims aspiring to forget that the soft insides of shoes don’t feel the same…
It is long gone now,
the yellow beach apartment of
innocent summers — gone after many years of hints
that its demise was imminent: finally one winter
torn down while we slept the cold away inland,
muffled dull by city noise and slush.
We grieved it, my sisters and I, as a first love’s loss — no less
my mother; while my father, always the pragmatist,
said simply, “things change,” and turned away
from the gaping raw spot on the boardwalk.
So lamented, those shameless afternoons of lazing high above the vibrantly towel-clad masses, watching through the gossamer screen of…
Morning swells luminous
on the edge of the day, a tear
that will not resolve
until it’s shed — and when the sun
opens its eye, the market opens its arms;
gritty and incense-drunk, it is the heady spinning
prism of reality after dawn — just as brilliant, only
less pure. And you can wind among the crowds;
the swirling colors, impossible come-ons: “Today, only
today, only for you, a special price — come in and see:
Look at this rug woven by far-away hands,
look at these piles of silks, Indian shawls,
enlightenment is in the solemn pillar of
this candlestick, beauty
in this bracelet’s shining curve!”
And you can pass, or you can stop, but
the market keeps its song. No question:
everyone has a deal for you —
but it may be that the real deal is
just to be here….
Clothed in air and ocean,
she came blazing from the rose-petaled
shell, the atrium of her birth
not, of course, full-grown,
but no less divine for that;
and if my prayers are not to her, what
does it matter? They are for her, and so
she is at least as sacred.
I never imagined
she was mine, though
I pulled her from my husband’s body
in the dark indigo whirlpool, the
spiraling nautilus, helix
of desire; my fingers on his skin
tiny eddies in the torrent
which at last unearthed those roots
that go deeper than the blood. I remember…
Put a shell to your ear, my mother
told me; put a shell to your ear and
hear the ocean. I knew at once
that it was true:
the hushed roar I heard
was the ocean channeled there —
not just the sound of it, an
echo: but the living Ocean itself.
It danced in my eardrum,
feinted away so I had to strain, not with
uncertainty but with something very like
longing. I cupped in my small astonished hands
such vastness. But then, I thought,
why should it not be so, that this thing of the water would contain…
There is the Garden, and then there is the garden.
The official Garden of Gethsemane is the one I at first sought out, of course. My first afternoon in Jerusalem’s Old City I stepped out from the Lion’s Gate to cross the short but unnervingly steep Kidron Valley to the Mount of Olives. There at the unassuming base was my destination: the oh-so-famous site of Christian pilgrimage.
Neither a pilgrim nor more than nominally Christian, still… I had been drawn irresistibly to its mythical power of Place — of universal story — in a way I have always been since…
Oh, everywhere, of course, but
not so easily recognized sometimes; as when
leaving a party I had hoped not to attend,
trailing the heavy stir of voices and wine -
not there — I miss it at the threshold as I did
going in. Not in the indolence of those nights, not in
the branches with their limp following leaves that move so slowly and without purpose in a breeze rifling the belly fur of house cats lazy on the furnace of summer; not in the humid buzz of cicadas lying on the air like the scent of tired blossoms…
The other day I held my infant daughter while she had blood taken.
Naturally she cried, and naturally my heart broke, but it wasn’t her crying that did it. I felt reproach of course, and a staggering desire that it could be me rather than her on the other end of that needle, but it wasn’t that either.
No, it was the split-second look of surprise just before her face crumpled into tears — her reaction not to the pain itself, but to the unexpectedness of it.
I was watching her apprehensively — having dreaded this event for a week…
Being human is a job. Words, art, love: both methods and measures…