In my newest poetry book, The Next Best Thing, the dedication reads, “For all sweet babies. This includes you.” Where would any of us be without our readers? I think it’s important to remember that when we write and publish.

Some people have asked me to include more poems here. These are three of my current favorites. I suggested to a class recently that if you ever think that you’re out of material, just put your mother in there and a whole bunch of things will happen.

ON THE MEANING OF

This is what life does.

It wakes you in the morning

before the morning

glories open and gives you

the sound of your mother’s voice.

Life spreads itself across

the ceiling to make you think

you are penned in, but that

is just another gift. Life takes

what you thought you couldn’t live

without and gives you a heron instead.

And a dragonfly, stitching its way

through the milkweed. Life contains all

of your tears in a vessel

shaped like hands in prayer.

Life is shape, sight, sound, bone.

It whispers and sings and holds

you and you almost never feel it.

You push your way from phase to phase.

You are a horse with blinders.

You think you are pulling, but you

are being driven.

While going about your solitary life,

one hoof in front of the other,

real life is turning the stars,

like mirrors, in your direction.

 

FROM THE HIGH BRIDGE

From Styrofoam balls decorated with sequins

for Christmas. I am from Brownies and Girl Scouts,

merit badges sewed on a vest and hopscotch

chalked on a sidewalk. From marbles

for trade in a drawstring bag at recess

and prayers during school. I was a little

bride of Christ on my First Communion,

Holy Mary Mother of God and mea culpa,

all that breast beating and lamb bleating.

I am from Romper Room, Miss Betty

and Ben Casey and Doctor, can you cure

this? I am from She lives in a world of her own

and Snap out of it! If Randy jumped off

the High Bridge, would you do it too?

I washed dirt off carrots from our garden,

ran through the sprinkler, snapped

beans with Mom, her eyes brown as coffee.

I carried bushel baskets of leaves with Dad

and husked popcorn off cobs. I am

from a bowl of thin china brought to this

country through Ellis Island, salt air, poverty,

knights on white horses and two marriages.

I am from a cedar chest, aromatic melodies,

the perfumed skin of my babies,

the white and the tan. How sweet they were.

 

MOTHER

She is waiting by the front door.

Her wings whir, invisible as the August breeze.

She hovers, almost motionless there,

held in place by air. The oaks are singing

tangled songs through serrated leaves,

asphalt appears liquid under the harsh

beat of the sun. The air is metallic.

I am just behind the screen,

standing as still as I can. I want

to take her in my cupped hands

and keep her with me. I want to feed her

tidbits of sugar and wafer, the holy

communion of our lives, our bodies

inside and outside our souls,

hopelessly connected, two full moons,

circling each other in endless flight.

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