Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Small Things Hold Us

The small things hold us
to this earth.
I wash the dirt from the baby's face
on his head the hair turns

a small nebula

Under my hands
he comes up gasping, astonished
in the fall air
trusting the light will hold him

if I cannot

My girl picks up the dead
butterflies like worn flowers
at the edges of the road
California sisters & painted ladies

she has learned to name them all

This hungry year
we cut pictures from the papers
she is learning to read: war, grief, fire
she makes houses for butterflies

lined with hard words

& her brother spells them out
in this fall, fighting free
of childhood as he fought
from my body

through the bright blood

That long ago blue wail
fixed me to this world
certain as nails: I am here
no betrayer

The road is narrow

past my cabin
lined now with the dead
leaves & next year's
young raspberries

they grab my hands as we walk

Come visit; I will show you
how these things
passing leaves, a child's hand
heart's blood

hold the door & keep me here

(never published, and I don't think I even sent it out, because it felt too discursive. But here it is; a poem that might be subtitled "and my kids keep me from killing myself, darn it!". A few years after I wrote this I did walk the edge again, for what I hope was the last time.)

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