J’ai fait la magique étude du bonheur
When my mother said, If I had a gun
I’d shoot us both, I remembered
his body, fluid with grace,
his sun-in-a-wheat-field hair.
Stoned hippie preaching on love—
he must be God, I knew,
and I followed him from his table
in the Telegraph café
to his mattress on the floor.
All night he moved like water over me,
in me, and I was full of joy,
high school girl with my ankh necklace
and spiky rhapsodic poetry.
So when my mother said, If I had a gun,
and made me show the blood
to prove he hadn’t got me pregnant,
my life slipped off its grassy banks,
dived beneath the currents of a lazy, sunlit river.
To an old friend: never mailed:
It’s raining. You must have snow.
I would love to be in Colorado.
The week last summer in the mountains—
alone, writing all night
in my padded flannel shirt
at that rickety little desk, hot water bottle
clutched against my stomach—
Eternity opened its doors.
I could wander around all my life
with my green pen and dorky notebook.
Yet as I came down the hill that last day
to where the shuttle stood waiting,
I remembered the statue
I saw once by a hearthside in Dubrovnik,
carved wood, a saint holding the city
cupped in the palm of his hand.
I would hold my family cupped in the palm of my hand.
Right now my youngest son, nine,
sleeps on the floor in his ‘nest’—
sleeping bag, comforter, blanket, and pillow,
his thousand Legos spilled around him.
A shaft of sunlight
slants down through the pecan trees,
bronzing the azaleas. At eight I knew,
though none can see God and live,
every dust mote in the light
through the windows of my mother’s house
was God. At ten as I got in the tub
I’d carefully lower my foot,
expecting, like Christ, to walk on water.
I was Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego,
who stood with the Lord in fire
and were not consumed.
Might as well confess,
all my life I have walked with radiance.
So I wonder, seeing this sunlight,
Why do I not let myself speak with angels?
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