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NaPoWriMo, Day 16: Paris Edition

16 Apr

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I, like most people, am completely heartbroken over the fire that ravaged the Notre Dame Cathedral yesterday. I’ve spent many hours thinking, crying, and praying about its loss to the people of France, and the the world. I don’t feel that I need to add anything here that hasn’t already been said on the news, social media, or in private conversations, but it is the basis of today’s poem for National Poetry Month. I typically don’t write poems about major events or if I do, I don’t write them immediately after because I like to sit with it and let the thoughts and emotions marinate for a while. I’m breaking my cardinal rule today because I was so struck by the fact that the prayer candles kept burning during the fire. These prayer candles are such a special place for me as they hold the sorrows, the meditations, the histories of people’s loves and losses. It’s a holy place, I think.

 

Candles

Paris, 2019

 
A drift of smoke. A woman bent in prayer
Her black veil, her mourning. A candle lit

and another. Each candle a desire—a child
to return, a husband newly dead, a sick dog.

Each candle a bone of the body alight. A cry
that rose through the spire and rose and rose

and rose until the ceiling could not hold
its sorrow. The mouth of the sky opened

to lick the forest, the lead roof, the glass
roses in the confusion of evening light.

The candles remained. A drift of smoke.
The ruin chiseled onto the tongue, the hands

that crossed the body and held the sooted
tears. A field of timber, stone. The candles

remained. The light in a small charred
darkness. A day named by fire. A burnt

elegy rising into the nave before
dissolving into the night’s dark ash.

NaPoWriMo, Day 13

13 Apr

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Alicia

 
My mother and I walked through
the front yard after the hurricane, picked up

downed pine and oak limbs, a twisted lawn
chair from someone’s yard. There was so much

she said not to touch—broken window panes
splashed with mud, the power line that snaked

and sizzled in the street—that every object
became a hazard, a promise of ruin. I learned

this lesson—bare feet on chinaberries, a shard
of glass. So much I wanted to touch, to raise

to the storm’s yellow light, the sky’s swift
afterthought of rain. So much we loved—

the yard of pines and mimosa trees—and so much
we lost. Under the iron sky, I bent to a buttercup

and let its pollen whisper against my nose. Safe.
A tarp thrown over a roof. A tree through the attic.

What, I asked my mother, is safe? I could not see her
feet through the floodwater. The egrets filled the ditch.

What is safe? It was still raining. I could not see her at all.

NaPoWriMo, Day 12

12 Apr

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Leafeater

 
The summer came forward as did the aphids
and flea beetles, hungry for more

of what I offered—crookneck squash, tea
roses, my hands a servant of rain and larvae.

I once saw a sawfly lay her eggs on the backs
of my tomato blossoms, their minute yellow

flowers as much a part of this world as
the roses, the sawflies, my grief. The pearl

eggs turned hungry and my tomatoes never
came. I collected my empty baskets and mourned.

What I did not see was how devoted I had become
to the creep of sorrow, its holes chewed straight

through me, its pale caskets of silk. It was the decay
I praised—how resilient its mouth, its exhibit

of hunger, its blind, bearable life.

NaPoWriMo, Day 11

11 Apr

Touch the Wound

 
When you return home, I catalog
the day—dishes washed in clementine
soap, stacks of shirts and jeans
folded. I tell you the same story

each evening, how I knitted a baby
blanket for a friend who’s having another
boy, our cat who wouldn’t take his heart
medication. I want to feel useful because

in this world, a woman can’t just sit
and listen to the wind in her rose garden,
or stare out the window for hours with
a cup of tea. That would be doing

nothing and anything—food scraped
from a knife—is better than watching
a woodpecker beat against the slash pines,
would be better than saying we

have no children and I fill my day
with quiet and often sorrow. What
I am trying to say is I touch the wound
when the birdsong becomes tires

screeching on the street outside, a bus
unloading noisy children who run past
our driveway at seven-thirty and three. There
are many devastations: a backpack draped

over a small shoulder, a princess lunchbox,
little voices rising above my garden, my tea.
The birds who startle, take flight.

NaPoWriMo, Day 10

10 Apr

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Gardening

 
My sister trims her pots of mint
in the white Colorado sun, and there is

no storm brewing for her, no blizzard, no
avalanche or mudslide coming down

the mountains near her home, but
she cannot turn on a television or radio

(and who listens to radio anymore)
because it’s fake, she says, and she says fake,

a curse, a scissored snip, another
cut of mint, a hacked weed

invading her little garden. I don’t know who
to believe, she says, and here is her fear—

it flies inside her, bangs the screen doors,
the open windows. Here is another night

in a world of thick woods and her rope
getting thin. She repeats what she hears,

weeds the garden. She collects the clippings—
the brown stems, leaves, a curled rootball—

and it’s difficult for her to recognize their beauty,
how brave they are in spite of the clipping,

the culling, the fingers that sweep them away.

NaPoWrite Mo, Day 9

9 Apr

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Today’s poem for NanoWriMo focuses on faith, lack of it, wishing it back. For the past year or so, I’ve had difficulty not with my actual faith, per se, but in a place to house that faith. I still haven’t found one and this Lenten season has been incredibly difficult for me because I don’t feel grounded, somehow. See more about this in my recent article in Huffington Post, here.

 

Fire and Feather

Note: poems are removed after a week or so, so that I can edit and submit them.

NaPoWriMo, Day 8

8 Apr

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I came across this photo of a woman showing her children’s baby teeth and was incredibly moved. I’ve been thinking a lot about the women and children at the border and it’s incredibly heartbreaking.

Today’s poem gets its inspiration from the above photograph. It’s a triolet, which was incredibly difficult to do as it is a form based on repeats. I came across Katie Ford’s triolet, “Triolet with Two at the Hill” in her new book, If You Have to Go, and was intrigued by the form and repetition.

Side note: I will be keeping up new poems from NaPoWriMo only one week each and then they will either disappear or be redacted so that I may edit and submit them.

Here’s today’s poem:

 

Triolet with Baby Teeth

 

Note: Poems are kept up for only about a week or so before being removed, so that I may edit and submit them.