For how can I be sure I shall see again the world on the first of May? Until the end I thought it was the beginning of the middle. Time happened, then all of a sudden what you once believed in could no longer be retreived. The truth was hard, never soft, never easy. But it contained a life.
May came, but you did not see it.
And so it begins, and so it ends, always with a question. And if there is no answer to give—only a silence that acts as if asking were enough—how does the wheel turn? Or is the question the pivot on a circle whose edge contains only unknowing, infinite stillness? Is that where you are?
How can I be sure? Every answer is the wrong one in a world where there is nothing left to say.
A prosery for Merril’s prompt at dVerse of these words from Sara Teasdale.
“For how can I be sure I shall see again The world on the first of May”
The Fashion Institute of Technology had only one dorm, reserved for out-of-town students, so I felt lucky to have been granted a room, even if I knew it was only for the first year of my two-year program. My roommate had sisters in the city, but had grown up upstate, in a Catholic group home, really an orphanage with all its attendant horrors. Nothing has changed about that since the time of Dickens.
Her mother died when she was very young. A family friend wanted to adopt her, but the Catholic Church refused to separated her from her two older sisters—the friend could not manage three more children. Her sisters married as soon as they aged out of the system, and now lived again in the city where they had been born. My roommate was a talented artist, and her high school art teacher encouraged her to prepare a portfolio and apply to FIT. She wanted to be a textile designer.
Her father had abandoned the family when her mother became pregnant with a fourth child. Unable to imagine being able to support three children, let alone four, on her own, the mother sought an abortion. It killed her.
Her daughters had no choice but to accept the fact that both parents were permanently lost to them. But there was a simmering anger in my roommate, a wound of loss and grief, that remained.
I lost touch with her—we both moved around a lot after getting our associate degrees, and the internet was not even a blip on our consciousness in 1973—but I thought of her again when the decision overturning Roe v Wade was leaked to the press.
Now, as then in the 1950s, our government blames the poor for their poverty, penalizing most of all the living mothers and their living children, abandoned by fathers, or forced to flee abusive husbands and partners, condemning them to hunger and homelessness as a punishment for not being born lucky, for not having friends and family who have enough wealth and stability to pick up the pieces when they need a helping hand.
another grey sky– spring comes late this year—crow calls inside the graveyard
For dVerse, where Lisa asks us to consider the topic of grief.
The moon has risen on the last remnants of night– floating she brushes the heavenly stars. The lake has widened till it almost joins the sky and the mist rising from the water has hidden the hills. Far off the Dipper lowers toward the river. You’d think you’d left the earth– body and spirit for a while have changed place and open, open– the world’s affairs, just waves.
A cento poem for NaPoWriMo Day 30. Thanks to Maureen Thorson for once again hosting this wonderful month of verse.
poets in order of appearance Po Chü-i (title) Po Chü-i Li Po Po Chü-i Ou Yang Hsiu Tu Fu Ch’in Kuan Po Chü-i Li-Young Lee Li Po
The day is grey and I am swept along its ways. Dense, impenetrable, uncertain.
And yet here is the sparrow tree. It sings out in tangled branches of song, in a chaotic chorus with no melody but infinite cheer.
The path continues with a chill bleakness. Robins and starlings bathe in puddles of mud. A sudden startle of dog and wings open, rise.
The wind is relentless. I regret dressing as if it were spring, as if winter had actually said its final farewell and relinquished its place on the wheel. My hands dig deeper into my pockets.
Despite the lack of sun, grackles sparkle in the grass. They watch me—curious? wary? amused?—as I stop to take them in.
I have a destination so I turn and travel east. Blue jays echo my movements in a stop-and-start carousel of cries. The moist air clings to my face.
emptying my thoughts to make leeway for feathers– invisible, light
Frank at dVerse asked for a haibun including the birdsongs of spring. A perfect time to bring out the birdlings.
Also linking to earthweal, where Brendan asks us to consider what serves as a commons for where we live. I would argue that every street in NYC is a commons, but the parks, especially, serve as a place where human and non-human intersect. My haibun is based on several recent walks through Central Park. Birds are everywhere (even in winter). But of course more of them and louder in spring.
I see you superimposed on the landscape, melting in to the shadows of buildings, sidewalks, trunks of trees–
woodfern sweetpepper bush cherry maple oak panicgrass fleabane hornbeam chestnut marsh blue violet–
I float on streams to the river– pickerel perch otter duck– climb paths up forested hills– bear fox rabbit deer–
My Lady of Mannahatta– swallowtail buckeye spring azure monarch–you gather me windwhispering
on hawkwings– full green animate, this island— return me to the timeless before, when land was shared, not owned
Welikia means “my good home” in the Lenape language. The Lenape tribe were the original inhabitants of Manhattan and the surrounding lands. Their main village was where Yonkers is now; they had temporary structures on the island of Mannahatta for use in hunting, fishing, and gathering.
The Welikia Project is an interactive map of New York City, where you can find out about the biodiversity and landscape of the island in 1609, before it was developed by Europeans. The idea that the Dutch “bought” the island was not one shared by the native peoples they then forced to leave the land.
Today, the NaPoWriMo prompt is “to write a poem that recounts a dream or vision, and in which a woman appears who represents or reflects the area in which you live.”
when you leave yourself behind, where do you go?– clouds a shimmering path
blue like a robin’s egg– this liquid sky, darkening into shadow– when you leave yourself behind
does the mirror look back like a lake regarding the sky? where do you go?
do fish see themselves in the stars? do birds ride feathered waves?– clouds a shimmering path
The prompt for NaPoWriMo today was to write a poem that uses repetition. That prompt was made for me. I had been working on and off all week for a poem for Sherry’s prompt at earthweal, to write from that place of holding onto wildness of soul. I thought that today, Earth Day, would be the time to post it.
So I took my ideas and made a cascade, but there were ideas left over, so I did a pantoum too. You can never have too much repetition in my poetry world.
when you leave yourself behind (clouds a shimmering path) where do you go?– windsong the surface
clouds a shimmering path, the lake regarding the sky– windsong the surface displaced by light
the lake regarding the sky– as it hues the reflection displaced by light, does the mirror look back?
as the earth hues reflection, do fish see themselves in the stars? does the mirror look back when birds ride feathered waves?
do fish see themselves in the stars on the remnants of moontides? when birds ride feathered waves, do they flow into calligraphy?
on the remnants of moontides, where do you go? will you flow like calligraphy, leave yourself behind?