Saturday, January 25, 2014

When a Star

When a Star Begins To Burn


When a star begins to burn:
my dreamscape is a slough of
low tides,

night's unsettling middle,
fat with mist and catkins,

stamens and green eyes the
hues of silt and muck.

My dreams are thick and
gloamy; I struggle to wade.

The old women were disappointed that their tissue flowers turned out floppy and quirked. I told them that there is no perfect symmetry in nature, that I had recently seen an animal that looked just like a boulder resting on the deep-sea floor, until it was cut open to reveal its vibrantly blood-red guts.

The seal pup's carcass on the shore
was stiff as a sugar sculpture now,
but it smelled of death and
its bones still held water,
I could tell from their staining, of rust
though I suspect that not all
of the marrow was wasted.

My grandmother told me that when her father brought electricity to the vestal plains of Canada, she ate only in restaurants, and in those restaurants, she ate only oysters. She loved oysters.

She said she bought herself a gray wool sweater at a shop in Olympia, Washington. She bought it with money she had earned babysitting.

I decided to mourn the pup the way that
I thought its mother might have mourned it:
an honest and insistent deluge of grief,
come in time to its tidy end,
because life rolls on.

One night, on the couch, my grandmother said that she regrets not having sent her father to prison for what he did. It was the closest she has ever come to apologizing to my mother, to Deborah, to Joanna.

My own mother mourned
her girlhood in much the way that the seal
squared off with a world abruptly minus
her pup.

Life rolls on,
my mother said.

My mother brought me a bangle of teak back from Costa Rica. She handed it to me and I slipped it on; it clacks against everything now, and I bathe with it. I feel it keeps me looped to my earth.

I am not very different
from wood, am warm
as wood is warm.

Once, there was a carpenter at the kitchen table of my house in Olympia, Washington, and he was trying to dig a cedar splinter from his palm.

It only matters because it is cedar, he said, and cedar has oils to keep it from decaying. If it were any other kind of wood, I could just leave it. Splinters will dissolve.

Splinters will dissolve,
I thought,

and dreamt good dreams
of comfort,

remembering nothing of them.

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