A Valentine to all my lovers, ever

There was the lover who wrapped me in grape vines, another who sent me poems written in his blood, another ran with me in large intertwining circles in the cold of winter in a Tennessee valley under a full moon, another made me dinners and cleaned up afterwards. Even swept the floor.

Then, there was the husband who after 18 years of more or less ignoring Valentine’s Day changed his pattern and reserved the best table at a French restaurant and had roses waiting. I found out six months later he was living a separate life with another woman and apartments in Beijing and San Francisco.

And, there was the husband who was violent, and the one who brought a custody suit against me. These are three different men. Each injured me, and each has been overcome, and each taught me that love is too precious to be thrown out because some people aren’t good at it.

As a woman of a certain age, romance still matters, more precious than ever. Catastrophes still bruise but less than before – and my women friends are pros at care and tending.

I have had a pendulum swing towards where I forgive flaws knowing that otherwise there would be no one in my life, and “forgive” is not the right word because it implies I hold a balance to determine good and evil, and I do not. Life is an unfolding story, not a legal case. No one doesn’t mess up, even as some mistakes are inexcusable. And the people who did inexcusable things maybe shouldn’t be in your life or mine but we can get on with our lives because we are terrific.

I have had a pendulum swing towards where being loved is a gift that thrills me as an aurora would thrill me, as chocolate truffles thrill me, as Maria Calos thrills me. Love is our natural condition, but it is still a gift. We could have all been reptiles and missed out on love.

Love is the light. Love is when someone touches your lips and you are suddenly no longer in the nitty-gritty of life, death, and taxes. Love is when your grandchild says almost anything and your heart dances. Love is tending your parents when they forget your name. Love is why we keep going.

To all my lovers, ever, and I’m sorry if I don’t remember your name – being in my twenties during the sexual revolution means I can never run for public office – to all my lovers, ever, some of you were good and some of you were not so good, some of you I think about and some I don’t, some of you were older and some of you were younger, some of you were poetic and some of you were not, some of you were rich and some of you were poor. To all my lovers, ever, I wish you to be loved well, even superbly, this Valentine’s, with or without grape vines, but surely with a sharing of household chores and a cleaning up after meals.

SISTERS

A cool scalpel, slice-thin, and so clean,
Hands sanitized, gloves two seconds away,
Mask in place, breath dew already forming on my upper lip.

Separating past from now from future,
No place for dreams, or wishes,
A basin ready to receive them, cut away, refuse.

Why are we not allowed ornamentation?
Why this minimalist line?
What harm fantasy, a moment’s dream?

Don’t tell me I don’t know reality.
I know reality, it is the dreams,
Real as vapor, hard as crystal,
Or sometimes onyx. I hold onto my illusions,
And flee naked, gown flapping, from the OR,
Down the hall, screaming.

As my surgeon smiles, kindly even, sure surgery
Is necessary, and that I will return worse for the wear.
Best not delayed is how she sees it.

… while I curl into a cluster of small damp flowers,
Smelling the earth as dirt from which all life grows, beautiful, oblivious,
before reasoning sets in with its sister: dreaming.

cerastium-arvense-577x433

On a Saturday that feels like Sunday

On this Saturday that feels like Sunday,
somewhat cooler than I’d wish
as I practice not having obligations,
as least not immediately,

when spring rises in the coolness
and the tree blossoms turn green
with traces still of pink,

on this Saturday that feels like Sunday
I wonder what Sunday will bring.

Will I wake from liquid into an incandescent thing
with wings, wet, vulnerable, poised for flight?

On this Saturday that feels like Sunday
the pregnancy is nearly obscene,
the tumescence liquid crystal.

Only missing is the sound of spirit
whishing from body. It won’t happen.

I will be here tomorrow on a Sunday like others –
grounded with what we have of mystery,
love and explosion.

Those Things

Those things one is supposed to know,
how to tie your shoes
and tie up your life and dreams
into reasonable patterns

that can be discerned when needed
to assure you that your fiber
will cover the stream of unattached
things that glide like translucent platelets

on the sclera of your eyes,
and are all around you,

time, people, places, memories,
what was thought to be,
what is imagined to be,

what your heart thinks is real
but your mind rejects,

what your mind thinks is real
but your heart rejects.

Those things, bundled,
neatly, or not so neatly,
casually, vibrantly, bursting
out of the bag, calliope of chaos

beyond time,
outside of beliefs,
not collectible into Something.

Those things one is supposed to know,
where have they gone off to now?

Infinite Loops

International Women’s Day – March 8, 2007

I.

In the beginning was the word, idea, energy, imagination
that created thoughts, tides, walking, breathing,
the micro and macro, universes mirroring each other inward and outward, infinity –

language, blood, laughter,
material world of joy and pain and children

and aches of hearts not knowing what they have lost,
sensing a home to be regained through briars of chaos and schism that may not be here

except as imagination is unleashed.

II.

Plump-plunk in the middle is you, me, us, we, mother, father, extended family –

those dancing at weddings, those starving,
and so many sold for sex and labor, those killed in Iraq or Afghanistan, those killed by guns,

those who will be killed by guns, those killed by ignorance,
those breaking bread, those tending the ill,

those who sing acappella in cathedrals or showers, those who use everyday bravery to feed their children,

those who birth children in deserts or well-lit private rooms, those being born, those dying,

those given to generosity, given to fear, given to despair, those who hold hope as their most hard won possession.

III.

Infinity visible on earth:

A small yellow bird eating seeds along a road.
A French horn in a cathedral in Germany.
A woman’s hand touching mine in the dark as she said, “Help me.”

A baby whose tears ran down my cheek.
Warm pebbles under my feet on a beach in Italy.

My hair stood on end once when Afghanistan police closed
in around me.

Young lovers in a park, kissing.
Ice on the bloody nose of my stepson.

I danced in a spring wind off a new cornfield,
pretending to fly.

Sometimes I am more alive than ever I’d been before.

IV.

Your soul is imagination in love with real time.

Imagination unleashed dances with the last digit of pi.

Love set free guides us home.

V.

You, who ties the kids’ shoes,

who frets about bad hair days and your weight,
who thinks people will find out how dumb you are.

and shovels the walk and sends an email,

you, with the bad knee, who clings to the past
as if it defines you, who feels so busy and pressured,

who feels despair over U.S. policy, who feel the world is beyond repair.

who feels guilty your life is good and you’ve suffered little,

Your burnished beauty is ready for primetime

plump-plunk in the center of infinity

in your reality show.