Memories of Forgetting

Stupid irritating security
questions! I can’t remember the answers!

That’s the problem with having amnesia —
I forget. But not always the same things.

One day I can’t remember the boy’s name
who took me to prom. Next time I forget

my favorite teacher, or my first dog,
but I now know the boy. No guarantees

that I’ll recall what I need when needed.
I don’t even know what breed the dog was.

For a few minutes I think my first dog
was a gray Schnauzer. Then, an hour later,

it’s back — my first dog was a black Lab pup,
mixed with just a pinch of fox terrier,

barely taller than my ankle, wriggling,
struggling, tugging, licking, tickling. Silly

pooch. We got her at my Great-Aunt’s farm,
clouds of dust billowing around the car

as we drove home. My son says, “Write a poem
about our dog now!” Hope I remember.

Memories of Making

Mom's Folks

i.
Blue Ford, round fenders.
I see feet, hear cussing, then
“Hand me the wrench, please!”

ii.
Scrimshaw and tatting,
old sailor’s arts made tiny
in my mother’s hands.

iii.
No money for a piano,
so he got one secondhand,
took it apart, removing

the player roll mechanism
so his bride could play music.

Long after both had passed on
I wore that piano’s steel key
in my own wedding.

iv.
Saws, hammers, glues, clamps,
the clean scent of fresh cut wood
growing strip by strip

into a solid oiled block.
instead of money, he spent
months assembling scraps.

I helped, well, tried to.
That long ago gift is still
used in my kitchen.

v.
“Oh, you’ll love this!” she said, “Here,
let me show you.” Hot water
in a pan with nail polish.

Yes, really. Then, the paper
laid ever so carefully
to float on water. Magic?

vi.
Mysterious dials and wires
defined gramp’s ham radio,

dad’s basement-built computer,
both! It must run in our genes.

Memories of Butterflies

2013-05-18 at 18.00.04

Pomegranates, peacocks, eggs, or dolphins,
but what my fingers knew were butterflies.
Each Easter I fold sets of paper wings

for the kids, but this time, driving thru Spring
in rain and sun, across hundreds of miles,
folding wings from the loveliest papers,

folding a rainbow of wings to cascade
across the walls of her hospital room —
Resurrexit, sicut, dixit. Oh, yes.

Triduum

i. Black and White

by gailrayaia, on Instagram

Image by Gail Ray

Before the sorrow, before the thorn,
looking away into what lies inside
the senses, memories as yet unborn.
Do you remember? Reality sliced
into ribbons, tongues of flame. Roses worn
where wounds will root. Peering thru many-eyed,
caught in hatched pencil lines. Before the thorns,
before the sorrows, the closed mouth unshorn.

ii. Light and Dark

by gailrayaia, on Instagram

Image by Gail Ray

When light enters the eye does it grow dark?
Do other waves weep as it slips in the grave?
Or do they shiver loose fragmented arcs
(wild rose petals clustered around a cave,
droplets of sound more liquid than the lark,
cascade unheard more sweetly than if saved)?
When light enters the eye does it transform,
tracing the shivering nerves until warm?

iii. Closed and Open

by gailrayaia, on Instagram

Image by Gail Ray

There is a tenderness in the morning,
when eyes grown used to dark open to light.
It is as if light bruises, gives warning,
confuses. It is as if light invites
the night, all things closed, all hearts in mourning
to open. Things that are dark may grow bright.
Things that are open, close. This is the night
full of gladness, dazzling, gentle with sight.

Closed and Open


by gailrayaia, on Instagram

Image by Gail Ray

There is a tenderness in the morning,
when eyes grown used to dark open to light.
It is as if light bruises, gives warning,
confuses. It is as if light invites
the night, all things closed, all hearts in mourning
to open. Things that are dark may grow bright.
Things that are open, close. This is the night
full of gladness, dazzling, gentle with sight.

Light and Dark


by gailrayaia, on Instagram

Image by Gail Ray

When light enters the eye does it grow dark?
Do other waves weep as it slips in the grave?
Or do they shiver loose fragmented arcs
(wild rose petals clustered around a cave,
droplets of sound more liquid than the lark,
cascade unheard more sweetly than if saved)?
When light enters the eye does it transform,
tracing the shivering nerves until warm?

Black and White


by gailrayaia, on Instagram

Image by Gail Ray

Before the sorrow, before the thorn,
looking away into what lies inside
the senses, memories as yet unborn.
Do you remember? Reality sliced
into ribbons, tongues of flame. Roses worn
where wounds will root. Peering thru many-eyed,
caught in hatched pencil lines. Before the thorns,
before the sorrows, the closed mouth unshorn.