|Jan/Feb 2014 Poetry|
Image courtesy of British Library Photostream
In Japan, a great wave would rise up
from the stirrings of the earth. As children
we knew nothing of the subterranean
shattering, nothing of how the heart
might not survive its quaking. We stood
under the wave, watching it form
and fold. Look how it has strewn
us on the shore. How we are not
bodies, but sand. Not sand, but glass.
I never hid my limp from anyone,
walking or dancing. On my feet twelve hours
a day, sculpting. Or sitting, with little clay
feet in my lap, working, not looking up.
Hear me limp along in my protestations
now and you wouldn't know my miles in the sun,
just as you pass a locust in the grass, lying
on its wings, but ready—zzt!—to buzz and spring.
So am I blue and green, frazzled, dazzled,
hiding in the open until I fly.
Oh, my women, don't remind me of the boot,
its heavy fall. A wasp devours my heart.
I took an arrow to the breast
as a daughter of Niobe,
that proud woman nothing like my own
hardworking mother, humble
in her hopes that we bring honor to her,
not, as I did, shame.
I took the figure from Sakuntala
and let her lean, dying
from her wound. Artemis blessed me,
Lady of Wild Things!
Once, I made that woman with a doe,
stolen from my studio.
It all mixes up in memory, as myth.
I can't remember who I was.
And then there is a small kindness,
a cup of chocolate,
or my little brother's face as a child!
We don't know what will pierce us.
Or how long we'll linger,
bleeding from the deadly aim.