The Beauty of Broken Things Repaired

An ice chip melts and slides over the back curve of my tongue.
Nothing to it, just an easy invisible sweetness
that is the sweetness of clean water and cool air, unsung
and unflavored, perfect in its plain ordinariness.
Other ordinary things: Dandelion petals squeezed tight
into hexagonal tubes before they unfurl. The gasp
and occasional wheezing sigh in our half bath at night
from the toilet with the leaky fill valve. The roughened rasp
of the waking-up, too-early-morning, no-coffee voice
that eases and smoothes out even a few minutes later.
My favorite slotted egg turner (always the best choice
for flipping the perfect unbroken over-easy egg
because its missing handle gives it the best balance). Weight
of a chipped white stoneware plate loaded with breakfast. Inhale.


On Edible Flowers

I was born of a flower that opened,
questioning, and found me, petalled with peals
of laughter, for the moment unbroken.
My daughter was born as slippery as eels
and blue as violets, ruddy with restraint.
I wonder why I hunger for colors
and blooming, adding rose water as faint
whispers of flavor to spice and butter,
orange blossoms gold in apricot syrup,
perfumed pansies with lemon in salads,
linden flowers for tea, nasturtium versus
caper buds, dandelion wine, garlic petals …
When I lost my first child, I picked fists of Scilla
siberica, so cold in my mouth, and swallowed.

-.. — – (Dots)

The shower shoots out Morse Code, rapid-fire dashes
(dash-dot-dot gap dash-dash-dash gap dash) in gray lines
sloppily staccato in midair. My eyes trance
watching them, wondering what secret messages
they carry that I will never know how to read.
Closing my eyes, the codes tap against my dermis,
vibrating with heat like sunlight, telling me: Here
is the shape of the thing that is you. Here are limbs
and rims, edges and fringes, points and portals. Know
your limits. I almost laugh, stretching, and then sag
into gravity (which breaks bones and makes them strong);
let my body fold itself down, the same structure
under the skin as when I stood, but reshaping
myself, morphing unplanned, according to design.


When angels streak after a speeding ambulance
the wings look like ribbons trailing, tangling, whipping
in fierce winds shrouding cars. An utterance
of sorts, I can almost hear low voices singing
in the beats of their passing. Sometimes, afterwards,
I find their feathers in the street gutter, shining
and wet, slick to the touch, as if feathers are words
and wings are the stories they tell, paralleling
and layering word over word, story over
story, dreams over dreams. Scapulars blend colors
and details, blur or edge the mantle, and cover
the heartbeat. The covert shift eye and air — lovers
of veils, flight. Alulas are a prayer that hovers,
saying pause, wait; let flight lift up and recover.

It Begins Like This

A hum, a buzz, a bee spinning invisibly
right between my eyebrows, like a thumb-sized whirlwind.
It’s distracting. It shifts side to side dizzily
as if it wants me to pay attention, begin
to focus, but when I try the thing keeps moving,
this thing I can’t see, but feel right there, by my face.
It shifts to to my mind’s eye, pauses, almost soothing,
then jolts to my crown and jangles, vaguely misplaced
and surreal. It’s growing now, taking up more space,
curling in on itself, muting whatever’s near.
It’s going to be beautiful, I think, maybe lace
and fire, maybe slow unfurling, maybe a queer
dissolution of sensation and fear, the light
spidering from pain into something growing bright.

It Happened So Long Ago

Did the fire in my brain come before or after the fire
in my mouth? My mother will never tell, and the records
have all been lost. All we know is there was burning, a pyre,
nerves gone haywire; we know there was a scream, a cry, a cord
anchoring one end of a wire at a fixed place, flashpoint
channeled from this, here, toward infinite possibility.
And there are scars. Of course there are scars. Even at knifepoint,
when the scars are cut away, new scars come. Serenity
comes with disregarding the scars, the old face, the new face,
whatever. I’m usually not the one who has to look
at it. I live behind the face and forget what’s erased,
what’s seen. I forget my hair is blue, that my smile is crooked
to one side, as if wryly amused. When you look at me,
I look back. When you smile, I smile, too, happy to be seen.

La Vessie Est Plein

The moon tonight is shaped like a spoon, cradling a droplet
of dark, heavy and solid. At sea, the weeds pump themselves
full of air, floating lighter than water, are carried by
currents helping them move from here to there, from this to that.
The weeds are called wrack — beach wrack, rock wrack, toothed wrack, bladder wrack —
as if they are wracked with guilt, pain, sobs, grief. I was sobbing
tonight, again, with grief that comes and goes like tides, holding
me back or holding me up, I don’t know. The tides lift up
the sea’s air bladders and shift them gently, in currents slow
and strange, like water dirigibles, trailing messages.
On land, the idea of the bladder flips and inverts,
carrying liquid, like a wineskin, sloshing or flaccid.
A bladder is feminine in French: la vessie est plein.
Let us speak plainly. In English, bladder is gender neutral.