I remember your joy in life.

I remember your laughter.

The sound of it is like something just out of ear shot now:

I can’t hear it, but I almost do.

I remember you wanted to go everywhere.

You wanted to see everything.    

I wish you had.


Mango juice for the ghosts

If I use words, I wonder, will you disappear?

If I speak to you, will you hear me?

Are you there only in what I cannot say?

Are you there only in the silence I keep like

something I think I can hold?


Saturday, we are waiting. Someone is coming. Someone says she is coming and doesn’t come.

We wait.

Aunty—who is my age—brings us mango juice and lays cardboard out on the steps for us to sit.

I squeeze the first bit of juice out for you.

I believe in ghosts.

I believe in you.


I want to show my world to you.

I don’t know if you see it.

I want to show you the baby’s rash at the shower we are going to.

I want to show you the vice principal.

That she says everything five times. The same jokes again and again.

I want to show you her saying the principal is praying too much and not taking care of his wife.

She means in the bedroom.

She spells it out for me, in fact.

She says he’s not getting an erection.

Our principal!


I want to show you this.

Can you see it?

If I tell you it, can you hear it.

If I love you still, can you feel it?

Frankfurt, the Airport

Frankfurt airport. Photo credit: Hessische Flugplatz GmbH Egelsbach.

Frankfurt airport. Photo credit: Hessische Flugplatz GmbH Egelsbach.

7 April, 2007


Leaving Frankfurt,

its patches of green grass,

the stand of trees beyond the runway.

This is Sunday—

a whole day since I left.


You can tell it’s spring,

as we fly low over the trees

that are just beginning to leaf out—

there is only a pale green tinge to the brown

of the branches,

and the evergreens among them

clump darkly together.


At the airport, the telex woman

asks me

where I’m from—


I exchange all of my American dollars to buy a teddy bear,

scruffy and coarse,

in a blue “Germany” sweater,

and for a cup of coffee I’m .20 Euros short of paying for.


The French man at the counter takes my money anyway—

the scatter of coins spread like leaves.

He counts them—

un, deux, trios—

and says, “I’ll take it.”

And then, “Cream and sugar are on the table.”


I wonder why he’s come to work in an airport

of another country

so far from home.

But I am far from home too.

I know the reasons you might want to leave.

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Fear as a Habit

Image credit: Henry Medals

Image credit: Henry Medals

When the dangers you are afraid of

turn out to be

no longer


you begin to imagine new ones.


Creaks in the house that might mean something,

a funny feeling somewhere–

the heart, the back, the stomach, a little finger.

It doesn’t matter where.

The habit of fear has set in. It doesn’t leave so easily.



Nothing to do.

So I listen.


Squeak of brakes.

A motor racing.

The dishwasher.


Why is it so hard to just be?

Why does stillness take so much practice

before it’s a habit?


Why do we need to be saints

before we can do it all the time?

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My Head is Dead

I think I killed it today.

Bashing it on things.


I have answers now,

but nowhere to put them.


Tomorrow, if you ask me about it,

I will have lost them again.


And I won’t be able to start over.

There is nothing left to think them up with.

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Another Bird, May 31st

Another bird, Friday, quarter to seven in the morning.

It’s full daylight at that time.

It used to be

the sun was only just then coming up.


What is it about the birds?

Do the children find themselves trapped in the same way,

unable to find their way out again?

And fluttering, exhausted, to the ground.

And can I

scoop them up in my hands, their thin bones like glass in my hands,

and take them out into the day again, the light

they are searching for?

I Woke Up Today, Surprised

I thought I would be dead by now.

It left me, assuming that,

unprepared. No Boy Scout, me.

I never would have survived the cookout.


It left me

still 20 years back. Never thinking

to look ahead.

To plan.

It left me

Surprised by the very fact of being alive.

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The Sparrow

There was a bird in the hall today.

I picked it up in my hands.

Moved it out of the way.

Birds always feel like so many bones when you hold them.

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New Trees

March and

the trees under my window–

bare sticks of things for half a year or more–

are returning to us.

They are new trees and I didn’t know–

I hadn’t seen–

they would return to us laced with lavender flowers.

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