Ghosts

I want to tell people about the ghosts, but
who would believe me? The way they throw
jars off the fridge, push pans from the stove. Shut
UP, I yell. My sister says I should blow
smoke around the room, smudge sage or incense.
This is stressing me out. They criticize
pretty much my whole life, and yeah, I’m tense.
They complain about my non-sex life. Guys?
Stay out of my house, and my head. When you
were alive, were you a voyeur? This is
one thousand percent creepy. Damn, they’ve queued
up to watch, to talk about flunked tests, his
leftovers, her starting over. They say
I’ve lost my colors, and life is gone gray.

Shekhinah, Immortal

Her hair is a memorial. Her skin
a living shroud. Her blood cells cascade
down rapids, through tributaries,
spin inner tubes on byways.
She is a plump seed bank
of stem cells layered
with nudges and
nuance, still
potent
with
pleasure,
with laughter.
Curious, she
is the one who
focuses the lens,
phases from shimmer to
prismatic, with crisp edges.
She leans over the microscope,
an incandescent eye, radiant
and restrained. Her dragons are shapechangers,
quiescent one moment, knit with stars
the next. They sidestep each question
like a dancer, a duelist,
incomplete but still close,
an invitation
(what will you do,
what won’t you)
with no
way
to say
yes. Or not.
The open hand
still needs translation.
Secrets bulge in spaces
between the fingers. Transmute
a breath to a whisper. Somewhere
someone already knows this, and has
forever. It will be so obvious.

Shekhinah Stitches a Quilt

ripples
of time,
of touch,
bunch up
on the
needle
she draws
through cloud,
through skin,
layers
of self

Shekhinah Slept Here

She roars from bedroom to bedroom as if
they are all the same. Maybe they are. Were.

They all have her in them. The narrow twin
featherbed, the cast iron frame, embroidered

pillows in a room of tall thin windows
with handmade white lace curtains and sunlight.

The massive futon on the floor, under
a wine-red velvet floor pillow, sculpted

for decadence, rounded where bodies lay.
The wood cradle in the corner, empty

and unfinished. A train thundering past
slatted windows in the dark, wheels throwing

sparks, horns blaring. The storeroom where a girl
lies under a coat with her back against

heavy boxes. The red couch, coffee-stained,
in the women’s restroom. The canopy

of teal silk, gold and silver fish swimming
urgently upstream. The crib, its endboards

decorated with pink and blue creatures,
a fox, a cat crowned with woven flowers.

The pursuit goes on, ricochets though years.
Surely there is, there was one with answers.

Shekhinah Closes Her Eyes

Senses collide, overlap. How does
a bite of apple float like spun sugar
against the tongue, cool as first snowflakes.

Pomegranate seeds stumble under
her fingers like a stutter in the throat,
then catch, cat claw jealous, swell and drip.

Chill against the hollow of her hand,
the whisper of a scent she chooses
to ignore, sometimes sticky, sometimes slick.

Shekhinah, Reclining

On this night, she reclines. This is an easy place
to be. The head of the bed is raised precisely
to the angle where her breath flows as easily
as water trickles downhill in thin rivulets.
The foot is also raised, her knees cradled, cushioned.
Life could be worse, than to pass the night while reclined.
Still, this is a hard place to be. Harsh lights erode
any sense of mystery, while puzzles remain
formulaic and vague, shrinking into shadows
at the edges of the room. Throw beauty a bone
with a framed department store poster, flowering
like bruises under her skin. Her mind wandering,
wired-down arms puddle on the mattress (gravity
dense), while x-rays steam open the chest cavity.

Shekhinah Goes Nowhere

“Sof ha’olam smalah (סוף העולם שמאל)” Hebrew.

His nowhere or her nowhere? Wait, are they
the same? At the end of the street, there is

a dead end sign, scattering of gravel,
a creek, a thicket of young trees. Turn left,
there is a space for crops, now plowed under.

In summer, the wind presses down gold heads
of chest-high grain for miles before touching

a face, waiting and counting the seconds.
At the end of the street, there’s a brick wall
bleached from constant sun and painted over

with loud secrets in neon and black. The fire
escape dangles stiffly, unused. Turn right,

be sure to close the lids on the dumpster.
Don’t let the kids climb on top no matter
how much they laugh or beg. And no candy!

Nowhere is always somewhere except when
there is somewhere else you would rather be.

Shekhinah on Horseback

Watch her on the mare, walking into dawn,
trekking over grasses woven into
rugs thick as her hair, braided. They’re walking

beside waters that start to screech like jays
and roar as if attacking a fortress
stuffed to the brim full of steeds, whickering

out of sight. The courtyard is a clear place,
a quiet tide pool, a placebo for
the ravaged world. Watch her on the mare as

it plays dead, and the bells ring, calling out
demons at noon, to die in some café
where slices of daylight fall on the floor

and are served up on a plate. Watch her on
the mare, her arms carrying the blue man,
enduring the blue winds playing around

with shimmering thoughts smeared like bands of bright
colors, prisms between toasted bagel,
delicious as drugs, pressed flat as binders.

Shekhinah is Grateful

Your new book came in the mail today,
the one with the painting I always
think of as mine, even though it is yours,
clearly, since you painted it. Blues, pinks; scoured
gridded tile of hospital walls, black threads
of wires and cables. The way your dad fed
your mom with a spoon as she lay in bed
and faded into your watercolors.
You wrote down the prayers as if they were code
for making something from something else: soup with
matzah balls, Carrie’s recipe for Pesach
rolls. Maybe you wrote recipes as if
they were prayers. You gave not knowing who would
frame your painting. Each day I see it I am glad.

Shekhinah Clears the Dining Room Table

Gooseberry jam and cranberry mustard
should have gone in the pantry, and not here.
Last of the jar of pomegranate juice?
(Just drink it.) Thermos of still hot coffee?
But it’s too late in the day for caffeine.
Tomorrow, perhaps. All those cookbooks full
of dreams, and the poetry magazines

stuffed with anger, wry pain, and surprises.
One surprise is to see her name there. Oh!
And names of her friends. So many of them.
Well, maybe not exactly friends. More mail:
messages about money, from a god
divided, “statement enclosed” (from the dead),
letters to answer (from the still living).

Jars set to dry after washing, their lids
somewhere else entirely, and they can’t be
set right without both, wherever they are.
A can of chickpeas. That’s right, she meant to
make hummus. Crayons. Rubber bands. Dragons
on stamps torn off envelopes. Her glasses.
There they are! She hasn’t worn them in days.