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Claire

Claire Two children squat on the sidewalk outside their apartment building stirring a mud puddle with twigs after a storm. Hey this looks like chocolate milk! Whoa. We could give it to Claire in a dixie cup and say it was chocolate milk, and maybe she would fall for it. How does it first arise, I wonder— the flash of cruelty, the severing of connection. And by what grace do we transcend this callous othering?

What He Might Have Said

After a wonderful Aha! moment of understanding Robert Frost's poem "The Road Not Taken," this series of alternative endings came to me:   What He Might Have Said I shall be telling this with a sigh Somewhere ages and ages hence: 1. Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—  I went blank. I froze. Two roads? in the woods? A friend told me once about the distinction  between a choice and a decision only in the moment I couldn’t remember  which  was which.  I couldn’t move.  Darkness fell. 2. Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—  I prayed. I lifted my eyes and prayed for  guidance, for courage, for clarity of vision. And I heard a voice calling out to me as clear as day, accompanied by a sudden shaft of sunlight illuminating the path ordained for me. I had no doubt. 3.  Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—  I was pissed. Where are the f-ing trail markers,  those primary color breadcrumbs nailed to the trees by those do-goody Eagle Scouts who take  an oath to help other people at

Wearing Black

Wearing Black My mother always wore all black. That is, after she got fat, and after she heard on her favorite New York radio talk show that black was “slimming.” And so within her ample dresser were geologic layers of black cotton scoop neck tee shirts and matching black cotton button down cardigans— all Bloomingdale’s best, on sale— always one or two complete outfits with the tags still on, saved for Special Occasions. How she longed to be invisible, like Winnie-the-Pooh dangling mud-covered beneath a blue balloon pretending to be a black rain cloud so the honey bees would not be Suspicious. If only I— her thin and unforgiving daughter— had been more like Christopher Robin poised beneath the tree, exuding patience and fondness, laughing to himself, “Silly old Bear!”  

Gratitude

Gratitude Her gratitude was like the child dancing alone in the aisle of the crowded concert hall— mouth open, eyes wide, arms floating in communion with the maestro’s, oblivious to the presence of anyone or anything but the pull of the soul to move in the direction of Yes sonnet version: Her gratitude was like the child who danced alone amidst the crowded concert hall with mouth and eyes wide open, soul entranced, arms drifting with the maestro’s rise and fall. Unconscious of the stares, she twirled and dipped to match the oboes’ plaintive melody; now flutes arose to join her as she skipped in circles, hopping glorious and free. No priest could ever have the power to bless the way this child was dancing in the aisle; with spirit pirouetting into Yes her heart leapt up and landed with a smile. Alone the maestro sensed but could not know— behind his back, the true star stole the show.

The Fruitless Pear Tree in New England, Mid-November

The Fruitless Pear Tree in New England, Mid-November I don’t know how to write a poem, but I do know something about red. I am a master of red, an aficionado of red, an exuberant maven of red: blood orange, claret, burnt sienna, rust, all with a bit of a green undertone if you look closely. You were looking closely yesterday, probably wondering how I do it, how I stand so dignified even though I’m shivering in the wind, even though it’s getting late, even though everyone around me is giving up and letting go. But I’m not letting go; I won’t. You stoop to pick up a single vermilion leaf at my feet, and look up at me, desiring more. But my answer is No, why should I? I know what comes of letting go. The browns, the greys, the taste of death.