Beryl

When I think of heaven
I think of things I resent
Not having here.
Good feet , working organs,
Fingers that uncurl,
Fluid that circulates.
My body is so sick
And has been so long,
I hardly remember
The feeling of jumping from a chair
Like a cloud
That never has to think about being a cloud.
I never was much
To be impressed by
Neither husband or children
Have called me blessed,
Yet still I lessen like someone evaporating
From a glass shower door.
There was a moment once
That I was pretty, a good laugh
A fun night out-
Thin even.
Not any longer mind you
After the first baby
I expanded like something dehydrated
Dropped into water,
While my body began its systematic
Decades long betrayal of me—

I think I wanted life to be a taste of glory
Not an argument against it.

I know sickness should make me cast my eyes forward
In search of that new space
Where I’ll be renovated, rejuvenated and such.
But when I see goodness limping along
Outside my window
I want to get dragged off into that parade
And dance a few mismatched steps
To the rhythm of it.
I have managed to scavenge happiness in the meantime
Gathering mementos
To the things I knew were good:
My first teddy bear
Who I can’t remember loving,
But I knew it was from my mother,
Who loved me
Like everything warm, right, and supple in life.
Her eyes are lost to me most days,
The feeling of her hands,
The imprints of her hugs
The sound of her fixing my cupboards
After my second came along.
I’ll let you in on my best secret though,
When they give me enough pain meds
To manage all I have going on
I can see her eyes through mine
Green like sea weed
Warm, Dewey, wet.
There’s always tears falling from them.
I sense there’s a reason for it
But no one will tell me why.
Maybe I’m seeing her heaven eyes
Surprised by grief
At the sight of me.
Maybe she rushes into the throne room
And asks God to pull the plug on me
So she can hold me and make it better.
I wish she would
But I hope she won’t.
What I want is a Pentecostal miracle !
To shoot up from my wheel chair
Weight peeling off me
While I do a little dance through the house
Eating donuts and buttered bread
Because God made the gluten intolerance better also.
But God had me be a Presbyterian ,
So that’s that.
It’s told God shook hands with Calvin
Back then
Exchanging miracles for intellectual precision
And that’s why we have such good books
And bad Holy Spirit work.
I do know,
In the way I believe the ocean is there
Though I’ve never seen it
That being with Jesus is better,
That I’ll be better
I’ll have my fill of all the good things.
But I’ve never laid on the beach
And I’ve never gone to heaven.
I know its there because
Of maps and other people
But I don’t know that’s it’s good
In the way I know a warm baby on my chest
Is good.
I watch old shows a lot these days
Except if the phone rings
I scramble for it
Like a hungry dog.
Wouldn’t miss a call unless I was dead.
Oh how I love my loneliness invaded!
Anyway the old shows
Are how I want it to be-
I want to wake up after the shadow
The valley and all the awfulness
In high heels and a starched apron
Like June Cleaver .
I want all the children of paradise to rush towards me
Pulling at my apron until I almost fall over.
I would kiss their heads
Then asked God to use the kitchen
Where I would fix them snacks,
Full of sanctified gluten, white sugar, and dairy.
I would vacuum the crumbs up after them,
Wipe their angel faces and send them off to play.
Then I’d find my mother
And tell her about all the silly things of her’s that I had kept
So I wouldn’t feel as without her.
She would laugh and hold me
For such a long while-
A thousand years maybe?
If I think of it that way,
I feel softer towards
God and his sharp edged providence,
And I can forgive Calvin for making such a bad deal.
I can hope
That God will make my resentment
Soft like my first teddy bear.
God is good like that I’m told.
I hope he is, I truly do.

Why Florence Keeps it to Herself

My story is a stranger

And I never to talk to strangers!

He bothers me daily,

Pesters and hounds for a visit.

Always pounding the door, sending letters

Ringing the phone.

I don’t respond to poor manners.

He knows this, I’m sure.

Long books, excepting the bible

Are a trouble to my eyes, and a pain to my ears

Yet still solicitors litter my heart

Requesting recollections longer than life itself.

I’ve said no and I’ll say it again!

Don’t bother me about yesterday.

I wipe it off my feet at the entrance of every tomorrow. 

If God wants to search me and have me be known

I tell him, “Go ahead!”

When I am good, dead and setting up my new heaven house

He can give me a report about what he’s found.

In the certified presence of the Almighty

I wont have to worry so much over what the stranger will to do to me.

God himself will narrate, making sense to me

Why all of it was so much the way it was. 

And how all that dirt wiped off my feet was just building bricks 

For the narrow road I was walking to get here.

Until then don’t ask!

I’ve never been one to tell. 

The Angles of Ellen

I am made only of angles
No lines, curves
Or country paths-
I protrude
And intrude
Leaving holes in the wall
And cuts on your skin.
I have tried to soften the tips,
To fill the gaps with soil
And seeds.
I have tried to see
If flowers could grow from me-

They cannot.

I am made only of angles
Sharper than the blades of knives!

Be Careful

Be careful that you love

The one who’s unlike you,

Who’s tongue departs the cadences

Of music that you’ve heard.



Be careful that you keep

Your door from being shut-

Strangers come and search so long

For warmth that doesn’t burn.



Be careful that you save

The things you have been given

From being buried in the ground

Where none but you can see.



Be careful when the time has come

That you are cold and lost:

Without, alone, a wanderer

Come knocking at the door.



Another place of foreignness

Will love you as you did.

Take care and always bear

The stranger as a friend.

Perspectives on Laughing

I.

Laughter is wind

You know,

Disturbing particularized grief

In corners.

Unlatching compartments of sorrow

In drawers.

Mining long buried caskets of doubt

In graves.

Glass will break when it blows,

Doors on old hinges

Will swing open.

Dust blows up in a gust!

Chains that bind you begin to chime,

Are singing bells.

Laughter is wind in the shadows-

Can’t you tell?







II.



Laughter keeps the soul

From collapsing on itself. It is proof

That humans are different than beasts

That we recognize Zion in part

By what Zion isn’t. That we can

Lay in a bed of ruin,

And make a flower grow.





III.



When darkness, substantive

And thick, like smog

Crawls over the face of every light

And every match has been used for cigarettes

And dying –

Laughter is the promise of sight

Belittling the muscularity

Of Sheol. Mocking the valley of bones.

Then poking fun at the power of Death

Grim, so serious, in the the corner

Studying the matters of man with a pipe.



IV.



Laugh and you will not

Overstate your capability to evade harm.

You will understand you can’t.

Laugh and you may understand

The eternality of your soul

That in the margin of your losses

There is a resistance outside your manipulation

To the eviction notice given your soul

From your flesh. If still you can laugh

At the incredulity of water as menace and friend

Or the ecstatic first song of birds heard after long winters,

Then you still have a chance at having eyes that could see

That in being mostly dead, you are always

A little bit alive.







V.



Laughter is perspective-

It assumes we’ll have it

Even if we don’t right now.

Laughter assumes a lot,

And denies very little.

Grief

I wish 

Fertility

For my grief:

Springtime and harvest,

New moons over old worlds,

Fresh sight, ancient eyes. 

I hope like Lazarus

Did when dead

And without it

That the more violent 

The sorrow,

The more ebullient 

The soil,

And penitent

The seeds. 

The Mother’s Dilemma

If my children learn never to need me

I may find that I’m once again free.

But if I teach them such treacherous, and ominous skills

I may find their souls dead, my lesson the weapon that killed.

Not dead of any living their bodies indeed will go

But gone from any loving their hearts still need to know.

I will be left untethered, empty, sudden belied

All for the myth of independence,

Did I hush them when they cried.

Might I teach them the tenuous art of need

In place of the motto, ‘A true man is freed’.

Might they know the weightedness of ever belonging

Before the first of deep darkness upon them is dawning.

Laundry

The laundry 

On the floor

Is a mountain 

I hide

My worry in –

A gremlin

Tensed

Wrapped

In socks

Mismatched.

Don’t go near

The Mountain Woe!

Tremble to fold it

Then find it 

Wound up

Tight,

Enlarged,

Wished

To

Be

Forgotten,

Terrible, electric

It.

Depression

There is a room of hallways

Lined each side with doors.

No one comes to settle here

But none know how to leave.

The noise of joy and chatter rich

Illusive as a ghost

Are locked behind a crystal wall

Subzero to the touch.

The prisoner can only peer

Such things they cannot feel

Such hands they cannot hold

Such songs they cannot sing,

Such love they cannot have–

There is a room to wander such,

Alone, alone besides.