Stillborn

thFrom Germany to Australia your parents fled

the brush of taint

your mother a beauty

your father with only enough room in his heart

for singular devotion

when she died, cut down by trolley car in front of you

aged six, catching the splatter of her broken skull

he took you into his bed to make up for her absence

you grew wan on divulgence of sin

til neighbors found out and your doors were broken

three men in uniform standing around the bed

get out they said

the smear of their inferred condemnation thick in your ears

like river mud swallowing you up among grubs and slugs

who blames a child for her abuse?

those who know nothing of truth, shining their finery with glass

you walked the line all the way to a foster home with metal teeth

thrown out at 17 for falling in love and shaming their Baptist ideals

as you and he prepared to marry he rode his bike in the night to pick up

his mother’s narrow ring

skidding on freak ice on the way back his head caved in like an exploding star

you stood at the altar alone waiting

impatient clock showing

he will not attend

afterward with nothing, there was no reason to stay

someone said like they do before you pass 20

let’s go to India

so you packed up your emptiness, put your leather sandals on

high in the Himalayas you caught the fever and nuns with tight wrapped mouths

whirled with lines and decay

nursed you as you slipped in and out of consciousness

liquid and sorrow pouring from you in bucket loads

a miracle! they announced when clawed your way back

what did you have to live for? being the whispered irony

and there, in the desolation of knowing nothing you walked

kept on walking until your feet blistered and your soul took flight

in the low hanging mangrove trees

where at night the shadows looked like an epiphany and you decided

I will return to my native land, the one of my ancestors

you wrote a distant aunt, she replied; come to the black forest we have

mud that will cleanse you of your sorrow and broad-shouldered men

Germany with its fairy tale castles and starched people rolling their own

you clambered over your wreckage, beginning again as only the young can

a flutist falling in love with your dark eyes and shiny thick Germanic hair

a marriage led to loneliness, he toured, you waited, touching his absence

with lightest fingertip

until it seemed being without him, would fill you more than staying put

traveling to Greece alone, you burned and burned and burned

turning yourself into oak

a waiter slept in your bed and kept you cool

against the battering murmur of sea tapping at french windows

life grew inside of you

when you took your first real job in London’s garish metropolis

heaving with anticipation and empty suitcases of hope

your daughter gave you the first peace you ever knew

a perfect child with a little mouth and large eyes

your Greek baby she lay in the curve of your hips smiling

and you breathed, deeply, and slow

like a long traveled bird finds purchase and easement

on empty shore

she, with her little tiny fingers and little feet

died of crib death just as

a match can be blown out never to

be re-lit

feeling like she hadn’t existed and she couldn’t be gone

here was your second decade of sorrow

etched between your fine eyes and deep clavicle

WHY? was not a word you used

absent of all

living only because your chest deemed it necessary to rise and fall

in time to your still-born ache framed

in reluctant silver requiring continual polish

you wanted to hurl yourself out of existence

yet you flourished as if life had said

we have taken and now we nourish

you grew successful, wealthy, every night you tucked yourself up

alone in a singletons bed

until the smell of the sea on the shores of Australia called you

it’s been eighteen years and it’s time

to come home

passing over Sydney Opera House you saw

the curve of sky and water meet

something within you released

he seemed to be waiting in the first corner you turned

as if always there, just ready to reveal

his promise to stay

with time they say pain subsides

which you know isn’t quite true

though love can keep together broken halves

by its stubborn hold on people who

would otherwise fracture and become

light on water skimming surface

it was not fair,  it was not right

now you are back in your homeland where

you began and will draw to a close

I hope

with the knowledge that even lives

built on pyres can hold

depths we release like night birds

flying unseen

overhead

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Who built the ark?

0000_nativityplay16_8It’s your turn to make the second pot of coffee

let’s take the day off, close the computer, shut our doors

silence the voices who sound awfully like 12 and 13-year-old teens

complaining about losing their homework and pointing fingers

when did we learn not to grow up?

I always thought Huck had a point when he tied his handkerchief on a stick and took to the wild

this is not the Peter Pan kind of childish fantasy

when we talk of growing up and growing down we forget

like Picasso once said in order to render abstract we first need to know the techniques of how to paint

then we choose like the 90-year-old who says screw it I will eat what I want, that’s informed consent

childish however, is the absence of reason and consequence splayed like tired kids exhausted from pass-the-parcel

fluttering like a torn flag over a battle field of this and that

the news isn’t objective the screech of complaints sounding like a hen-house on fire

nobody listens nobody really knows it’s not about fact it’s about opinion and who gargles loudest

I think back to the playground of my youth where twice a flasher showed his bits to the girls and they all screamed

ew it looks like a sausage! I never want to eat meat again! and ran off laughing

it is true, me and Donna plugged the girls outside loos with toilet paper

so Mrs Slug would come and tell us off, mushy peas staining her apron

detention is better when it’s freezing out

we had reason behind our madness

and whilst we didn’t see the folly of flooding the loos back then

or how long it would take with stinking mop and bucket to dry off

we learned our consequence and next time feigned illness to stay by the radiator

oh nurse it’s my head it’s pounding! You do look a little green, here read a book

there is a learning curve

lost to generations who think answers are found in the oracle of computers

and those older folk who try vainly to stay relevant and forget their lessons

we would benefit from observing consequence and seeing it through

rather than a sound bite on TV as we spoon feed ourselves snippets of news

nothing stays long enough to take it in, we’re attention-deficit spinning tops

straining to think

would the chilly air of our playground and the closed doors until after lunch is over

wake us to reality? and if we stepped inside, would we attempt to take with us the lessons

we internalized?

or like the hippies of the sixties do we grow out of phases and give away our flares for business suit to rule the world

is death so onerous that we fear anything but power?

is inconsequence so fearsome we’ll make a splash at any cost?

what of all those we know nothing of? they say history is written by the victor, I think often

of all those who didn’t traditionally ‘win’ anything and what they would write

it is said you are bound to repeat history if you do not know it

but what if the very truth we revere, didn’t get it right?

When I was a kid in the playground I used to wish to grow up so I could

avoid being told when to play and when to learn

not knowing then nothing changes as much as you think

I envied the teachers their staff room where they thought we did not know

they smoked and ate hot cross buns and talked of rumors of the headmaster and

his male deputy

who both wore open toe shoes in Winter and I once asked him when ushered into his office for winning a poetry prize

don’t your toes get cold?

and he said

I do this in remembrance of christ I want to feel what he felt

and that Xmas we put on Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat

the drama teacher said candy you can do backflips can’t you? You can be the queen of the Egyptians

and I never felt so good as that day I wore an old wig I once dressed up and played Kate Bush in

with sequins and blankets stitched into approximation I shook my belly and pretended it contained jewels

the headmaster’s eyes teared up and he stole a look at the young junior who

sang along with our ‘who built the ark?’ louder than us all, dabbing his small eyes with the back of his hand

afterward Clement and I climbed up to the roof playground and on the wire we swung upside down

daring each other to fall knowing we couldn’t

maybe that’s a metaphor for the fear we need to feel

the safety net

of all endeavor

how holding hands with a boy in the dark

briefly I was the queen of egypt and everything seemed so real

in a way it never does now

because not once did I need a search engine to tell me

what I believed was true