Apr/May 2014 Poetry

Four Poems

by Ruth D. Handel

Image courtesy of the British Library Photostream

Image courtesy of the British Library Photostream

Confession That in Certain Instances Leaping Up Describes My Heart

My heart leaps up when I behold
     A rainbow in the sky

             —William Wordsworth

Last week for example,
the late afternoon air glistening
with rain and the sun shining,
I looked to the east
and saw arching over Brooklyn and Queens
a glorious (yes!)
glorious rainbow, its purple
blue green red expansive and bold
as God's promise
which at that moment compelled
belief entire and I, having outgrown
my childhood shyness,
turned to the woman sitting next to me
(this on Amtrak)
and exclaimed
Look! Look!
and she glancing up
at an elder's enthusiasm
said wow before
going back to her iPad,
a response more surprising
than the emotion shaping familiar
words in my mind
My heart leaps up
and the rest of that lovely line.


No Border Is Perennial

From a tangle of alien bushes a cane
of rambler rose. Blossoms elope.
Ragged. Pale pink.

No site for sentiment. Just the pulse
of sun-seeking blooms, thorns.
Always a surprise

for the seeing eye,
the chance flower or weed appearing
or not with its own particular insistence.

A moonflower seeded by wind
opens its petals, scents the evening.
Next season no trace.

Top-heavy peonies colonize
the curbside. Cargo of black ants
freeloading nectar.

Honeysuckle, stealth assassin, prepares
to wind its tendrils around
viburnum leaves.

Wild sweet william, black-eyed susan,
butterfly weed native to the place
grow without restraint

like crossbred thought no focus has contained.
What happens without plan finds order
in the welcome

of the eye whose gaze calls forth the lines.
Borders, against confusion
a momentary stay.


On a Line of Rilke

Dark green stalks, budding purple heads of Siberian iris,
a large stand of them, tall and formal as an antique clan

bounded by pride of lineage, at the edge of a lawn.

Compact, aloof in their density, these iris appear to accept
admiration while admitting the reach of sunlight only.

Their shape, a model of restraint, while the rich colors,

alive and fresh, vibrate with astonishing promise
as if they could offer contentment or a certainty of comfort,

as if they could heal one of indecision once and for all.


Becoming Brilliance

A large meteor streaked across the Midwestern sky momentarily turning night into day, rattling houses and causing trees and the ground to shake... There were no immediate reports of injuries.

The dog knew it first—tremor
like the faint wail of a mosquito pitched
to insistence. Didn't look up to see

sky-streaking light. Traveling fast.

The child playing in the yard,
a woman inserting her key
          in the lock,
drivers slamming the doors
of their cars, saw

a bit of space debris—concentrated
matter—hard as a stranger's sudden
glare of anger—exploding.
Grain of sand becoming brilliance.

Sun. Resumes.

West-facing windows opaque gold while

inside someone perhaps still watching.
Or turning away or eating. Or on some
kitchen floor an elderly man lying
          mouth open,
dental plate gleaming.

The child is calling, calling to her dog.
She wants to put her arms around
          its warm body.
She wants to merge into that variant life.


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