At my wife’s grave
it’s changed a lot in a month;
someone’s planted some forget me nots.
It’s windy and flower petals from the trees are making pink
I know you’re at the grave.
Of course you can imagine my reply to you
standing in the swirling pink falling blossoms…x
That is a pretty email. Is it a haiku?
Here’s pictures of all the candles from last year and the view from
my balcony. Also the grave today and the petals blowing around
bluebells. Ok I faked that second one by throwing some in the air.
A true haiku might be:
today at the grave
you imagine my reply:
pink falling blossoms.
That changes who or what it’s about
but fits the format and sensibility correctly
and is nicer.
However it can be a poem of two parts.
I might write it.
Walking Toward Me
When the fireflies switch on
you’re the king; they trace
your shape like a giant halo.
The dahlias in the garden
still pop pinkly in the twilight,
now with its yellow and green highlights
of these bugs kids capture
in rattle-lidded jars or squeezed tight fists
to hold the glow. It sifts out
like water or sand they want to
scoop from summer’s days and not let
go. This is how you
come to me at the fold of hours
into dusk. I’ve been waiting.
The Well-Made Box
Let me tell you more about that box:
when the magician finally
slides the two halves
back in place, and slowly lifts the lid,
the dazzling girl is gone.
Waiting in the wings, the one in
the shiny new cape steps forward
to grab the empty diadem
and all her spangles trickle
to the floor, their unexpected clunk
clunk clunk, surprising like lead slugs
thrown at the stage. The showman
stands alone with his mistakes.
I don’t know what’s inside
this once new black walnut. Someone picked it
unmarred and bright from the wet ground,
said: smell this. I had to press it
to my nose. After five days on the table,
the wrinkling, speckling seed or shell—which,
I couldn’t tell—had changed. The tough skin, today
like a spoiling lime, has kept guarding
the tang of damp woods in fall, burnt
and shady, while also greenly still alive,
yet even that scent has faded farther in.
What I’d like
is to carve this open with a small, sharp
knife. If the heart can’t reveal its own
secret being, nothing can, and now
this shriveling globe, its center hidden,
offers only faint clues and tiresome supposition.
I’m holding this roundness right in the curve
of my palm; it’s not enough. Here’s
the first cut. Watch closely.
The deer are not angels. They are not
your father waiting at the edge
of the midnight woods, to say goodbye before
with a kick of his hooves he sets off for good,
or worse, stares with sad eyes
as you drive away and leave him there
finally as alone
as he feared.
At the field’s bend
off the road, the deer seem to be waiting
to take you somewhere, as the mist
that rises from the wet grass
around them parts so you
can see their faces, turned back
toward you, catching and holding
your own gaze, distracting you from
the drive in the dark you must make.
You say they look like spirits. They are not;
even when you dream them later
surrounding you with their imploring look,
How We Die
Death is cumulative;
the bodies pile up–
she tells us her story
of life so far.
I imagine the horizontal stacks
lining the borders
of an endless hall,
the high walls
closing in, as corpses
with ragged edges,
packed and flat,
diminish our long view.
We’ve seen so many
horror films, how zombies
their forlorn faces
gray, unblinking sight
hollow, under eyes black,
and hungry mouths’ corners
leaking blood. They want us
to come be with them
as much as to take them back.
Where were we going
anyway? If I once knew,
–Rebecca Weiner Tompkins