Finding Home, Finding Self
Me Gustaría Hablar
1. My shirt keeps hiking up as I walk down these summer streets, my backpack rubbing me the wrong way. A new neighborhood filled with tongues I cannot speak to, accents thick with que, quieres, and como. Children run rampant across unmanicured lawns, toward the tinkle of Paletero bells. I cross the street, away from these braised-skin old men hawking their icy wares.
2. I smell sex coming from windows as I walk through the neighborhood heat; eerie, late afternoon silence thickly hanging in aftermath. No signs of movement or muffled moans to distract me. These garden apartments should come with warning labels or at least a vent fan.
3. Her dogs bark for minutes each time I pass by the door, no matter the time of night; twin terrors with coats of charred black. They’ve already attacked another neighbor–bullet-like, off-leash they ran; our hallways no longer a safe space to congregate.
4. Awake in the darkness. Six pops, I think. But it might have been eight. Calibers too close for comfort; distance no longer an issue I can pretend to ignore. I close my eyes and wait for sleep that will not come, praying tomorrow to not hear of pérdida.
Julie Ann Ball
I kiss my mother goodbye.
I'll see you next Wednesday. I love you.
And I walk with my brother to the Orange Elevators.
Past a few empty weekend rooms, the info station,
the coffee room.
He pushes the down button and just that fast
the door opens.
We step in,
the door closes.
The space is too small for words
and not until we pass the automatic exit doors
do we walk my arm around his waist
his arm around my shoulder.
Even outside the hospital,
the space is too small for words.
I spent today in my hillside garden,
a suddenly eighty-hot summer day.
Late in the spring that was fog in the day
and frosted breath at night.
I spent today pulling weeds with
my father who art in Heaven
and my father who art in Appleton
in the gardens who explode with blossom.
Lupines and poppies wait one more day.
Sweet violets and lilies of the valley shooting,
iris and columbine and tiny forget-me-nots,
lilacs full and heady in the sun,
the promise of chokecherries thick in the air,
the quiet symphony from the tops of the trees.
My center in this tiny agate I find in the garden,
buried treasure from eons ago,
given to me from
my father who art in Heaven
and my father who art in Appleton.
The message I carry in my pocket
and roll in my palm and feel on my fingertips,
roughened with the garden.
The truth held in my hand.
Filling Mother's Shoes
We walk the beach looking for petoskey.
The water incredibly clear
and the sand coming gently in waves
that wash the beach
that show our rocks
(millions of years)
Sifting through the rivets of mother's shoes,
our sister wears mother's shoes
walking in the water.
I'll never be able to fill mom's shoes
but I can wear them.
(millions of years)
Sand in my tennies
at the end of the day.
Rocks on display under the moon.
We whisper our secrets.
The Third Night
August Strindberg (translated by Lotta Löfgren)
4 - Thirsting Spirit
Spirit, again you enter the night.
Thirsting spirit in search of water
living water from the fountain of doubt
Now where will you steer your steps?
You have burned two bridges behind you
By dismissing summarily
Both dominions of art and religion
Dive into knowledge there lie the answers;
Books have not yet forsaken thought!
Here in the darkness I see your ranks
Follow each other column on column
Some are clad in golden leather
Others clad in the humblest cloth;
Friend and enemy side by side
Eager to defend what little each knows.
Black! the first one answers at once,
White! the other promptly re-plies;
And when the answers are put together
one comes to rest on a field of grey.
2 - Sprawling City
Loaded wagon rumbles and clatters.
Coachman's whip cracks like a gunshot.
Tramway bell whines out a warning.
Omnibus blasts its trumpet signal.
Trampled puppy whimpers and barks.
Clearance salesmen and journeymen
bawl out their songs with raspy voices.
Now he can hear a weeping child.
Why are you weeping, little stranger?
Does it hurt you, this sprawling city,
Where so many find happiness?
Now again you hear banging and rattling
ringing howling Hammering rumbling crying
Laughing Whistling and roaring
And you stand there timid and wonder,
if you have landed in an asylum
or the bottomless pit of dispair.
Julie Ann Ball
That whisper of snow,
melted into sunspots on the lake.
Mother laughs at me for
boasting at winter
before she comes.
Snow, snow, snow, snow
Just a breath of frost
in the morning.
That whisper of snow
Julie Ann Ball
Just when spring was not coming
Banked by wind against port entry.
Incoming boats stopped; Diverted.
Harbor sealed in sleet.
Temperatures hover just at drizzle.
Fog swallows hillsides.
Muffled, muted light passes through morning.
Leaving no shadows,
Tracking no passage.
Dozens of robins in reunion.
Under the clothesline and up,
up our icicled line.
Upturning to green in one day.
A spring picnic
Fat sleepy worms
And all these cousins, uncles, and aunts
chirping news from far away.
The tropics come home to nest
even to fly away again.
What a feast in perfect fog
crusty snow melting,
Dogwood, bright red shoots, vibrate
Spring sun finally crawls from the lake
And you are born again each spring.
Richard's Women (Richard III)
Set down, set down your honourable load,
If honour may be shrouded in a hearse,
Whilst I awhile obsequiously lament
The untimely fall of virtuous Lancaster.
Poor figure of a holy king!
Pale ashes of the house of Lancaster!
Thou bloodless remnant of that royal blood!
Lo, in these windows that let forth thy life,
I pour the helpless balm of my poor eyes.
Cursed be the hand that made these fatal holes!
Cursed be the heart that had the heart to do't!
Cursed [be] the blood that let this blood from hence!
More direful hap betide that hated wretch,
That makes us wretched by the death of thee,
Than I can wish to adders, spiders, toads,
Or any creeping venom'd thing that lives!
If ever he have child, abortive be it,
Prodigious, and untimely brought to light,
Whose ugly and unnatural aspect
May fright the hopeful mother at the view;
And that be heir to his unhappiness!
If ever he have wife, let her be made
As mis'rable by the death of him
As I am made by my poor lord and thee!
O God, which this blood mad'st, revenge his death!
O earth, which this blood drink'st revenge his death!
Either heav'n with lightning strike the
Or earth, gape open wide and eat him quick,
As thou dost swallow up this good king's blood
Which his hell govern'd arm hath butchered!
What were you snarling all before I came,
Ready to catch each other by the throat,
And turn you all your hatred now on me?
Did York's dread curse prevail so much with heaven?
That Henry's death, my lovely Edward's death,
Their kingdom's loss, my woeful banishment,
Could all but answer for that peevish brat?
Can curses pierce the clouds and enter heav'n?
Why, then, give way, dull clouds, to my quick curses!
If not by war, by surfeit die yor king,
As ours by murder, to make him a king!
Edward thy son, which now is Prince of Wales,
For Edward my son, which was Prince of Wales,
Die in his youth by like untimely violence!
Thyself a queen, for me that was a queen,
Outlive thy glory, like my wretched self!
Long mayst thou live to wail thy children's loss;
And see another, as I see thee now,
Deck'd in thy rights, as thou art stall'd in mine!
Long die thy happy days before thy death;
And, after many lengthen'd hours of grief,
Die neither mother, wife, nor England's queen!
(But) leave out thee? stay, dog, for thou shalt hear me.
If heaven have a grievous plague in store
Exceeding those that I can wish upon thee,
O, let them keep it till thy sins be ripe,
And then hurl down their indignation
On thee, the troubler of the poor world's peace!
The worm of conscience still begnaw thy soul!
Thy friends suspect for traitors while thou livest,
And take deep traitors for thy dearest friends!
No sleep close up that deadly eye of thine,
Unless it be whilst some tormenting dream
Affrights thee with a hell of ugly devils!
Thou elvishmark'd, abortive, rooting hog!
Thou that wast seal'd in thy nativity
The slave of nature and the son of hell!
Thou slander of thy mother's heavy womb!
Thou loathed issue of thy father's loins!
Thou rag of honour! thou detested-- Richard!