Thursday, July 16, 2015

the rest of the Paint chip poems

Copper Cloud

Dying sun catches,
lingering on the fog bank

setting worlds aflame.

Periwinkle Dream

Called “Joy of the Ground”
flower petals make my bed
as I dream, waking.

Snipped Chive

My father always insisted
on using what the garden gave,
Rosemary from a busted barrel
leaves from the Bay tree that overhangs
and brushes my window on windy nights,
cobblers made from mixed bramble berries.

I remember him showing me how to make
his breakfast of champions
(which was, in no uncertain terms, not pizza.)
A flour tortilla, so unlike anything
his Italian Mama would have used,
butter the skillet,
Mom only buys Irish butter now,
grass fed cows, you know.
Crack an egg, and beat it with a chopstick
then add cheese, the good stuff, mozzarella,
sausage, already cooked, the grease saved for later
a little milk but only--just there, that.
Let it pool in the tortilla, and in the moment you cover
the steaming pan, add water, let it hiss
and turn down the firebright heat.

Then slip it out, crackling, Dad’s hands on mine
onto a plate, folded, the yellow-white
oozing out the sides,
and on top of it,
snipped chives from the window box
This is what home is.

New York City Winter
1909, December.

The snow is grey under our
rag-wrapped feet
boots more hole and newsprint
than anything else.
But we march, anyway,
sisters besides sisters
even if our hair, eyes,
skin, mother tongue,
do not match,
our spirits do.
We are the fervent girls,
the Union daughters,
walking the picketline with hand-lettered signs
and no coats, fingers stiff with ice.
But we are tinder,
burst into flame,
and turning to ash.

The cold and hunger weigh
down on us,
The bosses and union leaders  look
down on us,
what can girls do
to change the world?
What can they do but bleed,
freeze on the picket line?
But we remember our oath
and the words in so many languages
promised us:
this is the Golden Medine,
the new Promised Land.
In America, there is a better life,
even if our boots are filled with snow
even if the winter wind steals our breath.
We have voices, here, and our lives mean something,
they must mean something.
In America, they do not let you burn

Cathedral Morning

The pale rose of dawn
filters through art-glass windows
figures of Saints and the Madonna and Child
centuries old and still
This is not my church, but still the spirit
of Welcome, of a Holy Father’s arms
is here,  an ocean away from home.
Tile, cool, glossy with age
echoes back my footsteps,
as silent as a child in wonder can make them,
staring at  niches filled with relics
and ivory-colored statues, features worn away
by prayerful fingers.

There is a peace here,
in a little known cathedral,
somewhere in Italy, nothing famous
only a few parishioners here this early
in the morning.
Sacred has no limits,
spreading beyond old, solid doors
like the sun’s thin morning light.
I follow.

Canyon Hush

If someone shouts “ echo”
One more time
So help me,
I will leave you here
to bake like clay
in the Utah sun,
and you can get your own way back
forget about the ice cream
forget your feet
just look
and hush.
It took thousands of years to
carve this out
so you can wait a minute.

Norwegian Night

There are four secret passages
in the Canadian ambassadorial mansion
in Norway.
I know, because I found three of them
poking around in pantries and libraries
late in the night--
A jetlagged five-year old
should never be underestimated
in the best of times.
I held the cookie tin in my lap
with my new best friend
and we watched the sun
turn the ink-sky grey
and rose.