On the surface, I was calm: in secret, without really admitting it, I was waiting for something. Her return? How could I have been waiting for that? We all know that we are material creatures, subject to the laws of physiology and physics, and not even the power of all our feelings combined can defeat those laws. All we can do is detest them. The age-old faith of lovers and poets in the power of love, stronger than death, that finis vitae sed non amoris, is a lie, useless and not even funny. So must one be resigned to being a clock that measures the passage of time, now out of order, now repaired, and whose mechanism generates despair and love as soon as its maker sets it going? Are we to grow used to the idea that every man relives ancient torments, which are all the more profound because they grow comic with repetition? That human existence should repeat itself, well and good, but that it should repeat itself like a hackneyed tune, or a record a drunkard keeps playing as he feeds coins into the jukebox…

Must I go on living here then, among the objects we both had touched, in the air she had breathed? In the name of what? In the hope of her return? I hoped for nothing. And yet I lived in expectation. Since she had gone, that was all that remained. I did not know what achievements, what mockery, even what tortures still awaited me. I knew nothing, and I persisted in the faith that the time of cruel miracles was not past.

Stanisław Lem
Solaris

After a Death

June 26, 2020

Seeing that there’s no other way,
I turn his absence into a chair.
I can sit in it,
gaze out through the window.
I can do what I do best
and then go out into the world.
And I can return then with my useless love,
to rest,
because the chair is there.

Roo Borson

Clear sky; stars. I’m living in my father’s city.

Everything has an end except sometimes for some things that are not
                      things, like love.

So much waiting. I do Sudoku and listen for the poem.

One day, an old man appears at the end of the street. Is he my father,
                      come back?
He looks more like my grandfather, in his fedora.

I have questions no one answers.

I drive along the lake that is only here because glaciers aren’t anymore.
Whatever lesson that is, I don’t want it.

But that’s not a decision anyone gets to make.

The balloon flower blooms for the first time this year.
I clip the spent roses so more will come.

For a good while, my father was alive.

Mary Ann Samyn

Phelim swung his sickle. The wheat hissed, the bearded ears fell against his face making him close his eyes. Then the curve of the blade clanged against something hollow and metallic and black.

A woman’s rib cage.

No white-clothed beauty this. At close quarters, he could see the rust-red eyes, the adze-shaped chin, the nose as curved as a bill-hook. Her long black skirt was pale with dust, but not the shiny black of her iron upper body. Her long, flue-black, iron breasts had blunted countless sickle blades as she stood amid the wheat, waiting for her victims to blunder into her. She held a long-handled scythe, but she and her sisters had not come to harvest wheat.

Only the reapers.

Geraldine McCaughrean
The Stones Are Hatching

I have been warned, instructed
no flowers are to be plucked,
no fruits are to be picked,
no lovers’ rendezvous is to open the gate and enter,
no plait of hair is to be adorned,
no hunger satisfied.

I am helpless,
strong with the strength of others.
I open the gate with care,
close it with care,
make my rounds in the garden and return
when the sun returns to its blood.
Swallowing a heavy dose of harsh obligation
I go to sleep.
It will be late, very late
before I am freed.

There is no freedom even in sleep.
Now a hand throws a stone and then
a rustle in the dry leaves
reaches my ears from the Nairuta.
Now in the Aisanya
face like the face of a fairy
flares up and fades into the dark,
and then the pressures of the cold wind
surround my neck.
I could never learn
the skill of taming them.

I have no friends, relatives, family.
The skills of keeping alive
are provided to me
in the faint sounds made by trees
as they grow, blossom, bear fruit—
sounds quite capable
of resisting wind and rain
that threaten to throw them out.

My friends are only those
who floated ahead of or behind me
in the sea of the dark.
I don’t know how many they are.
I’ve heard they are three.
Often I feel I am one of them.
If ever a strange planet leads me by the nose
and I become oblivious of myself,
they too are not there.
These days, however,
I hardly can forget I am,

for the spring here is eternal
leaves, flowers, fruits eternal
the hum of bees eternal
the robust dream of blood eternal
the upward climb of flesh eternal
ecstatic movement of bones eternal.
For, in this garden,
I’ve buried my dead friends.

The other lives
in the village beyond the kia bushes.
worldly-wise, proud of a host of sons and grandsons.
Only a gunblast can send him to sleep.
Playing my flute all afternoon through,
I have been waiting for his arrival.
Will he ever come, but why?
Can we once again float
in the sea beyond our circle,
beyond our identities?

Soubhagya Kumar Misra

the world drops dead

June 22, 2020

I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead; I lift my eyes and all is born again.

Sylvia Plath
The Bell Jar

Beatrice

June 20, 2020

Send out the singers – let the room be still;
They have not eased my pain nor brought me sleep.
Close out the sun, for I would have it dark
That I may feel how black the grave will be.
The sun is setting, for the light is red,
And you are outlined in a golden fire,
Like Ursula upon an altar-screen.
Come, leave the light and sit beside my bed,
For I have had enough of saints and prayers.
Strange broken thoughts are beating in my brain,
They come and vanish and again they come.
It is the fever driving out my soul,
And Death stands waiting by the arras there.

Ornella, I will speak, for soon my lips
Shall keep a silence till the end of time.
You have a mouth for loving – listen then:
Keep tryst with Love before Death comes to tryst;
For I, who die, could wish that I had lived
A little closer to the world of men,
Not watching always thro’ the blazoned panes
That show the world in chilly greens and blues
And grudge the sunshine that would enter in.
I was no part of all the troubled crowd
That moved beneath the palace windows here,
And yet sometimes a knight in shining steel
Would pass and catch the gleaming of my hair,
And wave a mailed hand and smile at me,
Whereat I made no sign and turned away,
Affrighted and yet glad and full of dreams.
Ah, dreams and dreams that asked no answering!
I should have wrought to make my dreams come true,
But all my life was like an autumn day,
Full of gray quiet and a hazy peace.

What was I saying? All is gone again.
It seemed but now I was the little child
Who played within a garden long ago.
Beyond the walls the festal trumpets blared.
Perhaps they carried some Madonna by
With tossing ensigns in a sea of flowers,
A painted Virgin with a painted Child,
Who saw for once the sweetness of the sun
Before they shut her in an altar-niche
Where tapers smoke against the windy gloom.
I gathered roses redder than my gown
And played that I was Saint Elizabeth,
Whose wine had turned to roses in her hands.
And as I played, a child came thro’ the gate,
A boy who looked at me without a word,
As tho’ he saw stretch far behind my head
Long lines of radiant angels, row on row.
That day we spoke a little, timidly,
And after that I never heard the voice
That sang so many songs for love of me.
He was content to stand and watch me pass,
To seek for me at matins every day,
Where I could feel his eyes the while I prayed.
I think if he had stretched his hands to me,
Or moved his lips to say a single word,
I might have loved him – he had wondrous eyes.

Ornella, are you there? I cannot see –
Is every one so lonely when he dies?,
The room is filled with lights – with waving lights –
Who are the men and women ’round the bed?
What have I said, Ornella? Have they heard?
There was no evil hidden in my life,
And yet, and yet, I would not have them know –

Am I not floating in a mist of light?
O lift me up and I shall reach the sun!

Sara Teasdale

Funeral

June 18, 2020

And I have this dream where I’m screaming underwater
While my friends are all waving from the shore.
And I don’t need you to tell me what that means.
I don’t believe in that stuff anymore.

Phoebe Bridgers

Married

June 13, 2020

I came back from the funeral and crawled
around the apartment, crying hard,
searching for my wife’s hair.
For two months got them from the drain,
from the vacuum cleaner, under the refrigerator,
and off the clothes in the closet.
But after other Japanese women came,
there was no way to be sure which were
hers, and I stopped. A year later,
repotting Michiko’s avocado, I find
a long black hair tangled in the dirt.

Jack Gilbert

Falling To Shadow

June 12, 2020

As you see, as you see, my forehead is wet,
from the sweat of death and fright,
you already managed to get too close,
let me go alone into the night.

Please let me just like a shadow pass
to wilderness quietly sighing,
drop on the hummock and wake up as grass
in the holy morning.

L. Onerva