Saturday, July 28, 2007

in answer to a challenge


Dark nights. When you moved beyond the last

rings of stars & oceans, there were no letters.

Even the fir trees lift their arms to dance

when the wind spins messages, these feathered letters

Write to me, I said. I don’t have your touch.

Everything is gone, this alphabet of nerve, these letters.

Yes, those were good times, the sunlight crossing

our bed, the bright windows, spring’s love letters.

Only the past hurts, that amputated limb

the failed transplant, the flesh stapled like your letters.

Goodbye. You had, you said, enough of this

alphabet of pain & longing, this world in 26 letters.

You can’t keep things in cages. They escape. And so

the best prayers I have for you fly out: just letters.

Don’t you think I cried enough? So many years

walking dazed with lust, with your name’s few letters.

All night the cat plays with the mice. They run

& toss, reminding me of us, love, this life’s smeared letters.

Dirt on my hands. Another lettuce row, more flowers.

You liked the dahlias best & the foxglove’s curious letters.

Okay. The lilacs never bloomed. The children left.

You won’t remember me, having burnt my letters.

It’s no one’s fault, the way the soul jerks out.

I learned to love like this, shaping the letters.

Before, all was the word, I’ve read, inscribed

on flesh & leaf & stone. Do you believe god lives in letters?

I try to praise it, this breaking life. Someday

this body too will find earth’s envelope: dead letters.

I wrote this poem some years ago when challenged by the poet friend for whom the Reading the Files poem was written. Technically it isn't a ghazal; I later learned more about the requirements of that verse form. But at the time the deal was "write a poem in two line segments, each line ending with the same word, each segment complete in itself, yet connected to the whole" or something along those lines. It was fun, of a heady sort.

Labels: ,


At July 30, 2007 12:34 PM , Blogger MB said...

Pure ghazal or not, it seems you kept your part of the bargain very well.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home