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 


Charles Gramlich said...

You sure get the feel of family in this. Excellent. This is really masterful.

Sarah Hina said...

Thanks a lot, Charles.

midynasty said...


Charles Miller said...

I agree with the other Charles. The sense of belonging to home, that place where all things find rest, comes thru so ringingly clear. Yet, the lines where you stand outside that somehow brings a certain sad pathos that that adds depths to the narrative and pulls it together in an authentic word seeking understanding. There are several lines here that strike my heart:
The heartbeat of a graveyard where 
someone may pass and press 
an ear, long after we’re beneath.
They are so good they hurt.   


children zig-zagging between laughter
and sobs, the shadow that falls 
when you stand outside that to which 
you most belong.

Thanks so much for them.

Sarah Hina said...

Midynasty, thanks for stopping by.

Charles, wow, thank you for those kind words. They mean a lot.

Wendy said...

Wonderful moments, Sarah, and lovely imagery!

Sarah Hina said...

Thanks, dear Wendy!

the walking man said...

And in your worl your life has become poetry Sarah, some written some not but all right where it should be.

Sarah Hina said...

I think so, too, Mark.

So good to see you here again.

Aniket Thakkar said...

You know, I was so sure that this was about you reading that book of poems amidst the melody of dissonance, but then I read the "I am 35" part, and I went - "Shoosh. Must be a work of fiction." ;) ;)

See I'm making up for yesterday by being so nice. :D
Like you have, these are by far the best words I've read in a long time, and I've been doing some reading lately. I completely agree with both the Charles'. Charles II picked up my fav. lines too. And since I know, that you are the protagonist here, these are more than just words. This is your diary entry, which makes it all the more personal, honest and special. Small Houses with children running around are the best. Cherish these days, friend.

Sarah Hina said...

I am cherishing them more than ever. Thanks for everything you said here.

And you know what? 35 feels like a fiction to ME too. Luckily, I still have #aniketswedding to look forward to. ;)

Margaret said...

My youngest daughter moved out a couple of weeks back. That's all three away from the nest now. The house feels so empty without her. It's going to take some getting used to!

It was so lovely to read your poem, Sarah. I wish I'd written poems while they were small. These lines are as precious as the memories you'll hold on to.

Sarah Hina said...

Aw, Margaret, I'm sorry they've all flown the nest. I'm guessing you're the kind of mother they love coming home to, though. I always felt that way about my mom, too.

I like what you said about treasuring these lines for the future. I already feel so many memories slipping away from me. We need to stake some down. :)