japonisme: solstice II

14 December 2007

solstice II


But you can have the fig tree and its fat leaves like clown hands

gloved with green. You can have the touch
of a single eleven-year-old finger

on your cheek, waking you at one a.m.
to say the hamster is back.

You can have the purr of the cat
and the soulful look

of the black dog, the look that says,
If I could I would bite

every sorrow until it fled,
and when it is August,

you can have it August and abundantly so. You can have love,

though often it will be mysterious,
like the white foam

that bubbles up at the top of the bean pot over the red kidneys

until you realize foam's twin is blood.

You can have the skin at the center between a man's legs,

so solid, so doll-like.
You can have the life of the mind,

glowing occasionally in priestly vestments, never admitting pettiness,

never stooping to bribe the sullen guard who'll tell you

all roads narrow at the border.

You can speak a foreign language, sometimes,

and it can mean something. You can visit the marker on the grave

where your father wept openly. You can't bring back the dead,

but you can have the words forgive and forget hold hands

as if they meant to spend a lifetime together. And you can be grateful

for makeup, the way it kisses your face, half spice, half amnesia, grateful

for Mozart, his many notes racing one another towards joy, for towels

sucking up the drops on your clean skin, and for deeper thirsts,

for passion fruit, for saliva.
You can have the dream,

the dream of Egypt, the horses of Egypt and you riding in the hot sand.

You can have your grandfather sitting on the side of your bed,

at least for a while,
you can have clouds and letters, the leaping

of distances, and Indian food
with yellow sauce like sunrise.

You can't count on grace
to pick you out of a crowd

but here is your friend to teach you
how to high jump,

how to throw yourself
over the bar, backwards,

until you learn about love,
about sweet surrender,

and here are periwinkles, buses that kneel, farms in the mind

as real as Africa. And when adulthood fails you,

you can still summon the memory of the black swan on the pond

of your childhood, the rye bread with peanut butter and bananas

your grandmother gave you
while the rest of the family slept.

There is the voice you can still summon
at will, like your mother's,

it will always whisper, you can't have it all,

but there is this.

Barbara Ras

From Bite Every Sorrow by Barbara Ras,
published by Louisiana State University Press, 1998.
Copyright © 1997 by Barbara Ras. All rights reserved.

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Blogger here today, gone tomorrow said...

So beautiful, it pulled tears from my eyes. No joke, Lotus Green. I am so grateful to have found you in the blogosphere. Always, this perfect marriage of text and images. Thank you.

15 December, 2007 06:13  
Blogger lotusgreen said...

i'm so glad it moved you too, htgt. i also love her poem Abundancia, but this one seems to be the only one of hers online anywhere.

good solstice to you

15 December, 2007 06:53  
Blogger here today, gone tomorrow said...

P.S. This is probably not your thing, but I tagged you. Please feel free to ignore.

15 December, 2007 16:21  
Blogger lotusgreen said...

i can see you know me already. ;^)

15 December, 2007 21:20  

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hi, and thanks so much for stopping by. i spend all too much time thinking my own thoughts about this stuff, so please tell me yours. i thrive on the exchange!

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