A few plots over, a mower buzzes in the heat
like a bee working the flowers for its queen.
What does one say at the grave of someone so
important you wouldn’t be here except for her
and the choices she couldn’t make? How in her life
she had to flee the Old Testament wrath of her father
and leave the garden hive of her innocence. How in your life
you must thank her for the accident of your birth––
what does one say at such a stranger’s grave?
I try to whisper a few words. Dry, fine as pollen,
they still catch in my throat. They feel as foreign
as a language I’ve never spoken, as foreign as here
(where I’ve never been before) among the bees where
she rests as if waiting for some sweet yes I never
said, some offering that life might mean for me
what it never had for her. So I disgorge my sorry
words for all I may have held against her, for all I’ve
held against the world, then do my dance and leave.
This was poem was never published in any journal, but it appears in my book, The Kingdom of Possibilities.
Each day the page would fill with loss,
and he would see the print squirm
through his glasses like a virus
he recognized but hadn’t caught.
His wife began to read them, too,
not long after they were married,
but when they stopped for that same
no reason they’d first read them,
something small had already found
its slot between their bodies, and they
warmed it, though it remained thin
and pale as a page waiting for its print.
Finally, the fine print appeared,
and the page thickened into pages,
became a tome wedged between them
which they kept but never read.
This poem first appeared on a now defunct e-zine called The Rose and The Thorn. It also appears in my collection The Kingdom of Possibilities” (Mayapple Press, 2009)
Playing with Szymborska
In the lost paradise of improbabilities,
we arrive at our sand box.
We dig our toes into the clean
but gritty inches of its landscape
ready to make the best of everything.
Although I have brought to this place
the inappropriate noises of my little red truck,
the sound of its spinning wheels in the sand,
I marvel at the subtle castles she builds,
the whimsical, rising twirls to her modest towers.
I want to know her gift for suspension, how
when her little figures fall from their own towers,
marking the air like desperate ants,
they never land. I want to find the little keys
and coins I see dropping from their pockets
to become the archeology of their lives.
I want to dig their shards out of the sand,
piece them into poems fanning their pages
into wings which will also never land.
I want to do this with Szymborska,
her hand showing me the simple action
of how to knock at the stone’s door.
This poem has never been published. It makes reference to a number of Szymborska’s poems, but the central reference to the towers and the little figures suspended alludes her poem “Photograph From September 11"
© Tim Mayo