PIECES

At home we have an on going debate. I maintain that it always takes two times to know how to do something and that anything is easier the second time around. His theory just the opposite, he brings up again the parachuting analogy, saying with a shiver, “The second time you really know what you’re in for.” Well, we never really resolve it. I suppose both are true. Certainly, the knot keeps coming in my stomach, but I always need twice to get anything¬†done.

We are saying goodbye again.
I talk about the women I knew
who turned away,
wondering now about responsibility,
and we are saying goodbye again.
We talk about the evolution of women
and the depth of scars.
I admit my happiness is
on an alternate day basis.
We are saying goodbye again.
What do I do about .. what do I do ..
I go on in bad taste.
I want you not to go until
you figure everything out for me.
I am tough as nails,
I want to hold on.

Driving down Torrey Pines
I feel my hair,
remembering your touch,
tasting your smell,
mouths meeting,
feelings rushing through teeth,
no feeling too much,
I touch my hair.

It is Grandpa in the pine casket.
It is Mama dying against
the cold summer sheets.
It is Lou Bertha leaving
without goodbye,
the screen door slamming
in my face.
It is every cut,
lined up my arms
like many gold bracelets.

It is letting go of everything
I hang on to,
I am the girl clinging
to a crumbling log,
pushed by a very fast current
and I am the log
the girl holds on to.
I am the girl clinging,
I am the log the girl clings to,
I am the current,
and I am moving very, very fast.
I hold on to myself.

I am Sarai,
my name means contentious,
my name means barren.
Perfecting the art of self pruning,
I tore off the branches,
pealed away the bark of weak women,
left only my roots,
a tall, gawky stalk,
a spindly, titless mother,
left only this,
and you.

I am Sarai,
my name means barren.
I want to cut away the i.
I want to be a princess,
pink and blooming.

At home we share only art
and because we share art,
sit in separate rooms
and share nothing.

My name is Sarai,
I need something that is growing.
I am moving very fast,
I call out my name,
I touch my hair,
I hold on to myself.

On my wall is a photocopy of a woman
walking in a wide stride,
diagonally across a brick courtyard,
her arms swinging.
She is dressed in black,
the queen of swords.
She is a woman who knows
where she is going.

There is only this here
and paper,
and Mary’s print.
I cry because you believed in me.
I cry, I feel my hair,
I hold on to myself.

In the night there is a terrible storm,
gale winds bash the trees
against the house.
You cry out that I have left you,
I cannot get my bearings,
cannot stop the wild rushing,
pushing me out,
tumbling head over feet,
crying my way into life,
cutting and knotting,
my own blood upon my hands,
I cannot stop the winds.

At midnight the wind rips open
the locked door,
the banging glass wakes my child,
her frightened cries bring me to her bed.
Lying beside her I do not tell her
of my own sparrow fears,
wet and shivering,
crouched where the limbs meet
in the dark trees.
I hold her until it is dawn.

In the morning the old eucalyptus has fallen,
blocking the street and pathways,
ripping up the cement in her elephant fall,
merciful in her death,
waiting for midnight,
sparing cars and people and buildings.
The men with chain saws and pulleys,
and large leather belts,
have come to haul her away in pieces,
to clear the street for traffic.
I carry home a sprig,
pod bearing and rich in perfume,
I will wait for it to sprout.

In the afternoon we go to see the victims,
she wants to see the fallen flesh
of the eucalyptus and pine.
She wants to see the power lines down,
to know what the storm has done.
She cries and whispers,
“Poor birds, poor little birds.”

The floods have washed
the dead into the gardens.
I have come to find them,
I have come to speak their names,
but do not know them,
they have been dead for so many years.
I have come to slay the ghosts,
to take them home for another burial,
their vaporous gray slips through my grip,
I am too old to carry corpses.

There is no wake,
they ignore my words,
will not speak my name,
even now they do not know me.

All day I dress in mourning,
all day I weep and call your name,
all day I want to undo the storm.

Old friends gather,
they paint pastel scenes around me,
gardens in full bloom,
mimosa trees and crepe myrtle.
I see only wind swept cypress,
a heavy velvet green.

They drink tea and tell their stories,
sing songs about romance.
They will call me high priestess,
and ask me to read their cards,
ask me to peer into their china cups,
I will bury the dead alone.

They will call me a name
that fits their scenes,
they will weave sweet dreams,
I will dress in black,
they will never speak my name.

I have come to the city
to visit your ghost,
entering your home
it grips me like the poem.
I tremble,
I cannot shake the sense of the dead.

The angel of death laughs at me
in the shadows,
his cunning and guile are sadistic.
I have brought him to my bed,
I have slept with him for years.
I have lain down beneath him
and sucked up his dry kisses.

I have come to their reunion
to drink and sing their songs,
a ritualistic performance,
I am only watching.
My mouth so hollow,
I cannot sing.

The men are fair
and have delicate hands.
I yearn for contrast
and lay my white skin
against my dark robes.
I look for strong hands
everywhere.

In the morning I go to the fields.
I work until evening,
I sing Southern spirituals,
I sing to hold the morning,
like a warm cup in my hands.

It is time to go back
to the plow,
to mend buttons,
it is time to weave
a rich, warm robe
for you.

I will conjure you again,
I will hold you like a warm cup
against my skin

I will sing to you
in the darkness,
I will cling to you
when the winds come.

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