The Box and The Hole

Clear skies overhead.
My black dress dances with the wind.

 Cold, gray, rectangles
depressed into
the green grass underfoot.

Like ducklings,
we pass
L. ZIOBER
25 MAR. 1912- 9 JULY 1979
and
JARMOS
JAN
AUG. 13 1919
APR. 30 1997

And then,
GALLAGHER
LOVING
WIFE, MOTHER
AND FRIEND
PATRICIA M.
1926-1982
I AM THE RESURRECTION AND THE LIFE
JOHN 11:25

Three leaf clovers bloom from
carved Celtic crosses
framing the name.

Concerned voices mumble.
A hand shovel plows into dirt.
Small footsteps race through aisles.

But I am still,
grip the edges of a box
small enough for only
a handful of his remains.

Uncertainly,
unsteadily
I lay him to rest
with the grandmother I never met;

cover the hole,
read his speech from
eighteen years ago
to a son he’d never get the chance to know.

Maybe they fish together now.

Red, wet-faced,
I trail behind.

Clear skies overhead.
My black dress dances with the wind.

DSCN1184

Synesthesia*

AbbeyUnderATree

Sitting beneath the old maple tree, the sun streams through the space between the leaves. It starts slowly, warm and languid like the sluggish drawl of your aging uncle from North Carolina who you always lean closer to understand. The sun shifts and a slow sizzle begins. Like when your grandma fries chicken cutlets on the stovetop. It is a gentle hum like that of the honeybees that fly around your backyard in summer.

The sun shifts and people begin tap dancing on bubble wrap. The oil in the frying pan is popping. The bee is buzzing in your ear. A blaze ignites and crackles across your skin. The orchestra shrieks dissonant chords. The sun shifts and you walk home; the final cracks of the fire snapping with every other step.

In bed, the wail of a high falsetto keeps you awake. After hours, it softens to a gentle hiss. As night turns to day, you awake in silence. Until you flip on your side. Screams erupt like magma from a volcano. You rush to the shower where violin strings are plucked in perfect time to the drops of water that pelt your skin. Once out, the orchestra is muffled with each pat of your white terrycloth towel. The final strings are silenced as you glide a cool liquid across your skin and all that is left is the crisp crunch of autumn leaves under foot over the next few days.

Next time, you promise, I’ll wear sunscreen.

*Synesthesia is when one sensory stimulation also stimulates another sense. For example, people who have synesthesia may experience numbers as shapes. Days of the week may have specific colors. If you are interested in synesthesia, I highly recommend reading the book, Born on a Blue Day by Daniel Tammet. Excellent read.

1955-2010

Hello all! I haven’t forgotten my newest video project, don’t you worry, but for today I want to post one last poem. In memory of the anniversary of my dad’s passing, which is this upcoming Saturday, I wanted to repost this poem. I hope you enjoy it. (And get ready for next week’s video!)

DSCN0156

 (July 2009 at Lake George)

Every time I hear Jerry’s
voice
I think of the hours we spent
driving around
soaking the sun into our
fair
and
freckled
skin.

It seems we went
everywhere
in the Jeep.
The sun filtering into our car,
baking me,
as my eyes droop
in the ultimate serenity of it
all.

I sit beside you with my window rolled down,
the wind tangling my
brown mop
for your lack of one
as we reach 85.

Your aged hands, thick and healthy
beat the steering wheel
in rhythm to the drums,
keeping you in the song
infinitely.

It’s something I got from you,
you know.
To find beauty in sound.
To find beauty in what others considered
small things.
Because really,
they were all we truly needed.

And each other.
And that remains.

When the dancing bears
pass me by
I think of our adventure to get tickets
to a concert I was too young to see.
Your strong, tough, large hand
enveloping my tiny one
that was so untouched by the world
you wanted to keep it that way,
protecting it
and me
as you held tight.

One swift movement
and I could easily be in your arms
against your warm
chest
with your heart thumping loudly into my ear
away from anything too scary
for my innocent
blue eyes.

I was able to see then
that smiling,
enjoying other peoples company,
and wearing long flowy skirts with anklets that
made music when you walked
were what
it all seemed to be about.
A simple truth
I easily understood,
standing less than five feet tall.

And that remains.

Glancing at my bookcase,
always resting
is the giant red book you gave me
from when you graduated college
as your way to encourage me to get there too.
Barely able to see my face in the bathroom mirror,
it was too big to handle
with too many words I did not know
and could not pronounce
even if I tried,
and only lately
is it manageable.

A book found in every home,
but special
because
it is worn
and it was
your gift to me.

I see many new additions;
all familiar
and
some I know that are older
than me.
When I take them down
-always gentle-
I rustle through the pages
looking for a place to crawl
into,
where you’re just awaiting
my company.

And sometimes
when I find your
scribble
here
and
there it reminds me of
myself
and
how we are
truly
one of a kind.

And that remains.

When I sink into the couch
and watch the History Channel
you take the remote and change it anyways.
When I’m sick with a fever
you still check in to make sure
I’m not really faking it.
When I get a good grade
you’re still all ears
forever replying, “Not bad.”
When I wake in the middle of the night
from the worst
nightmare a person
could ever have
you’re there to put me back to bed.
When I’m on the train
doing homework
you sit down next to me
so no one else will.
And when I feel alone I just think back to
Jerry’s voice
and all the years we
had
knowing that they remain.

Even if all that remains now are remains.

Grand Central (On the back of a MetroCard)

Yesterday, a friend from my writing program and I went uptown and had to take the subway. When we came back downtown, we went to a diner for something to eat. As we were talking, she mentioned that the MetroCard she used for the subway had a poem on the back. Being that we’re both writers, this was very exciting news. She searched her bag, pulled it out and handed it to me. And right on the back of the card was a poem by Billy Collins (whose poems I have posted many times here). I was thrilled and knew I had to share it. It was such a beautiful surprise to find poetry in the most unlikely of places. (Click the image to enlarge it!)

20130612_224406

20130612_224442-1

Not Touching

Since I’m a busy bee working on creative nonfiction pieces here at NYU I haven’t had time to devote to poetry so today’s poem is by Billy Collins. One of my favorites. I don’t even think I can add a picture for this one because he paints one himself. Enjoy 🙂

The valentine of desire is pasted over my heart
and still we are not touching, like things

in a poorly done still life
where the knife appears to be floating over the plate
which is itself hovering above the table somehow,

the entire arrangement of apple, pear, and wineglass
having forgotten the law of gravity,
refusing to be still,

as if the painter had caught them all
in a rare moment of slow flight
just before they drifted out of the room
through a window of perfectly realistic sunlight.