I could not tell if it was male or female, therefore
according to Schrödinger’s cat this cat was both male and female;
it let me sit with it, watch it, feel it, and experience it,
but it did not follow me all the way home and, instead,
was content to find its own sustenance;
it was not perfect as I understand perfect,
but that was okay, it was a kind cat;
it seemed glad that I existed beside it, but
it did not seem to need me;
who else would meet me at two in the morning
and why wouldn’t it be a cat,
sitting patiently on a newspaper box,
generously allowing me to find comfort in its musty,
musky fur and
its wide eyes and humming throat?
I think it found some comfort too.
I wonder how many folks sit with God when
God is a cat with two tufts where its tail used to be.
I could have spent longer with God but I was tired
and someone thought I seemed suspicious,
standing as I was on the corner of the street half-dressed and
I wonder how many times God has heard that excuse.
Thank God I am only mildly allergic to cats;
I may find salvation yet.
Our feet carved lines in gravel, loose within
the bed eroded from the bluff (they sought
for rest inside the roots of hardy plants);
and grasses, sharply bladed, did the same:
before the barnacles at ocean’s edge
could match them line for line they dipped their quills
in our red ink, and carved in silence names
and stories that would not be read until
our language changed and barnacles inscribed
the characters anew; but, even then,
the sea spoke louder, clearer; hear, the cold
assaulting, creeping up our shorts, the taste
of salt inside our mouths. Our feet were clean
and braced against the waves; above the crash,
embraced, we listened to the ocean sing
and laughed to know the words, the song, the dance.
Along the beach, the lines upon our feet
found voice, or we found ears. The sting was just
the words; the message was not pain: the grass,
the barnacles, with sharpness whispered, “Love!”
In thin, crisscrossing lines upon our feet
our journey said, “Rejoice, be soft, remember.”
Oh Lord, I cry out to you;
Day and night I cry out,
“Lord, have mercy!”
Is there a language you do not speak?
Is there a groaning you cannot hear, oh Lord?
Is there a language you do not understand?
I speak with the tongue you gave me, Lord,
And yet, I am not heard:
Truly, even I do not understand my moaning.
Oh Lord, I cry out to you!
The wind has passed, oh God–
I have been torn to pieces!–
The earthquake has passed, oh Lord–
I have fallen to the deep places!–
The fire has passed, Father:
Lo! my body has burned away!
Where are you in the silence that surrounds me?
Oh Lord, I have been quiet,
Waiting for you to comfort me.
Lord, have mercy on your servant.
Day and night I lie as a dead person,
Waiting for a still small voice,
Panting for a gentle whisper:
I lie as a female goat–even as a pigeon,
I lie on the horns of your altar–
My God, my God! how long must I lay as one who is dead?
Oh Lord, you have sealed my mouth with fire;
My God, as coal you have hardened my heart;
Lord, my limbs have been made wooden;
How, oh Lord, can I speak to you?
Where is your spirit, Lord?
I am not afraid of your tongue of fire.
I am dry as kindling in the desert;
I cry out to you, oh Lord,
Day and night I cry out,
“Have mercy on me!”
I’m trying to forget how old I am.
My body has forgotten the womb-sleep
and my mind is forgetting the child-peace,
my hands have forgotten the work-skin
and my eyes are forgetting the learn-light;
my nights were once for getting rest;
Stretching over abyssal waters dark as dreams
I sometimes forget that age is not everything,
that change is a blink and a big bang,
and that time is nothing, really, especially after it’s devoured and delivered and locked in place to look back on.
I’m trying to forget that this year is still passing underneath my vision;
before, I was older; I miss being older,
before I am older; before, I was older;
anyway, now I have more to look forward to,
if only I could forget how old I am.
I miss it being next year,
remember next year? So strange, to be so impatient!
It came so quickly, in the end,
aren’t you glad you lived that age with me?
Last year, in March, I turned a year older.
This year is a movement year, a march year,
a jumping ship year; so,
in March this year I turned over a new leaf and didn’t turn anything,
but the weather in Steveson turned golden.
In the west, which the sun kissed:
Honey sweetened storm clouds
hung as pillows of misted gold,
syrup thick sweet water duvets,
and living air breathed for the earth,
danced for the ocean where it learned to walk,
and played for its freedom from industrial law.
In the east, which the storm left:
World warmth and sparkling crystal rain
met at the corners of a smile,
and rose petal blushes and blue cotton chalk
guided a perfect arc of gemstone dust,
through a sky rising towards the earth,
in exquisite strokes of children’s profundity.
My love is like the poets:
It is Emily Browning: absolutely adoring
and profoundly thankful;
It is William Wordsworth: beautiful and natural,
a spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings;
It is William Blake: innocent and experienced,
revolutionary, feminist, and romantic;
It is Samuel T. Coleridge: the relief and intoxication
of laudanum, the addiction and dependence;
It is John Donne: carnal and holy;
It is John Milton: inventive and iconic;
It is John Keats: beautiful and true;
It is Andrew Marvell, or at least it is impatient,
and Robert Browning: patient and utterly dedicated;
It is Allen Ginsberg: wild and human;
Alfred Tennyson: expressive and mythical;
It is William Shakespeare: immortal and public;
It is Emily Dickinson: mortal and private;
It is Percy Shelley: heart of hearts;
And I love you more than Lord Byron loved himself.
Your mum always wears that apron (even I know it); that blue and grey apron with the braided strings. The colours are as familiar as the taste of spaghetti and the feel of its fabric is the smell of tea and dad’s-home dinner. It has always been tied in the back with a tight little bow. Almost always; those strings were the first you twisted round and formed into rabbits’ ears and hills for tongues to twist under. Even before your kindergarten shoes you were deposited on the counter beside the dishfull sink and your mum turned her back to you and waited for your little curious fingers to run along the knobbled lengths of the cords until you found their ends, to navigate with your tongue between your teeth, and at last leave hanging in a mess of loops that you pretended was a tight little bow just like you knew your mum liked. You knew those strings.
When you got your kindergarten shoes you practiced with those until you could make the tongue tight against your foot and stay there and you rushed to your mum and tied her apron, standing on your kindergarten shoe tiptoes.
Later on that tight little bow was as easy as breathing and just as memorable and you laced up for middle school and tennis practice and in the kitchen to secure your own apron, with smooth red cords, where you added thyme to the sauce as your mum drained the spaghetti.
You have to tug sharply to undo the laces of your adventuring shoes, left and right; those tight bows have never left you. You deposit your car keys in your bag as you step sock silent up the stairs, shoes in hand, when you are arrested by the sight of your mum standing in the kitchen, still and turned towards the evening window. Her apron is undone and the grey and blue braids brush the linoleum.
–I made spaghetti, she says, and there’s leftovers in the fridge. You thank her, but–I’ve had dinner out today; french fries . . . and a salad, don’t worry. She says it’s okay–I forgot to add thyme to the sauce, anyway. You hesitate by the entrance to the kitchen. –Mum, you say, your apron has come undone. She turns to you and her eyes are sad. –I think I tied the bow too loose, she sighs. Won’t you cook with me tomorrow and tie it for me?
–Oh Mum, you laugh, these aren’t the strings that connect me to you anymore, and as you step behind her and take up the cords, crossing one over the other, the sun coming through the window hits your back and your shadows are one across the kitchen floor.