Thursday, August 25, 2011

Small Houses

("Blue Star" by Joan Miro)

It’s early and I’m but half alive,
so I close the bedroom door to sit
with a book of poems and a cuppa 
for a morning reprieve, a little kick-starter. 
Breathe. Sip. Repeat if desired.
But the pages are put on hold 
by the sharp, plaintive 
voice of our daughter,
dulled by distance
but the keener for it,
so that I may absorb the sincerity 
of her reproach, 
if not so much the particulars.  
My husband responds 
with a deep vibrato; 
she falls silent, mollified. 
And my attention is drawn 
downward, to the poet’s name,
to the archway of the title’s “A,”
until the whump-whump
of our son’s pachyderm feet
takes the short measure 
of a short hallway
and I am fallen away.  
Another breath, another sip, I lean 
further in. I might turn on the fan, 
instead I let it be. Small houses
have their rewards.  
And the poems are what poems 
should be: a quiet cup where life steeps.
The heartbeat of a graveyard where 
someone may pass and press 
an ear, long after we’re beneath.
They are so good they hurt.   
The dying wail of the iPad game, 
signaling another clean defeat, 
and I attempt some stretches, 
testing each muscle to find its resistance,
that all’s as it should be, that I am, in short, up to par.
I am just thirty-five and these things are starting 
to become more important to me.
Probably because they insist upon it.    

And the birds don’t know they’re ribbons 
in the blue spruce outside the window 
and the sunlight, broken and recombined 
by the blinds, is a Sunday prayer for physicists. 
I count the seconds, switch the legs. The cup
beside me is nearly empty. It’s summertime.  
Our son runs down the hall again, 
and this time, his sister follows him.
One of them is laughing hard. I know,
from experience, how fragile it is.
The house and I hold our breath.  
And when I switch the fan to high,
closing my eyes to extinguish the light,
filtering thoughts from my mind like 
the leaves left behind, a bittersweet 
note seeps in haphazardly, 
unbidden, and swamps the place--
call it the sunlight, the dust it keeps,
the book of poems so good they bleed, 
children zig-zagging between laughter
and sobs, the shadow that falls 
when you stand outside that to which 
you most belong.  
And so I rise to fetch my notebook,
awake, awake, awake