albatros

Tropes of Father, patrimony, padre, Father-

cigarettes out in the ashtray, simmer.

old mansion now an enchanting bar               rain      on       the      rooftop.

running down     a  c o b b l e d  street, boxes full of rosehips, black pepper, turmeric

oregano. Pablo Neruda, you old, inspired, fool.    I am writing

this fiction:

fever into eternal optimism, as my people are imprisoned.

Nâzım Hikmet is a kindred resident-

cigarette ash,

a puddle in the rain, my still reflection.

Tiny objects on display for your gentle heart,

how many times have my feet hit the pavement,

queer and strong in our arguments of resistance,

your umbrella a tiny shade,

from the pouring rain.

Istanbul is Dionysus      eternally fertile in April

despite the fragments of totalitarianism

each stripe on my sleeves a reminder or a soft smile, at home.

The water is velvet out of the faucet, the moon wanes

pulling,

pushing on the Bosphorus as

Synagogue is translucent in greys.

It’s late.

Abuelita, the Catholic church-

I can hear your prayers

in my marrow making

pomegranate juice       from my blood

like Persephone in the underworld, her

skin made of orchid petals like the ones

at the palace gates.

At an antique shop I buy glass beads that

now clank and click in my pocket where the

copper coins used to be which are now offered

at the base of an Ottoman vase, white and blue vase,

as big as an ox head and covered with flowers-

he, the salesman, told me to leave my money there,

where he could later

find it.

He goes mad trying to feed each of the objects in his

store that smells like my mother’s sandalwood cabinet.

If there ever was desire, it was indeed for the fruit of this

Eden.

A longing                so great,              it expanded  into the beautiful

light and shadows

the                          sky

between my eyes is small, remember it is

greater        and        into            the womb

at the center,         that very center,         of the cosmos.

Small dove in my camera shutter. Small smile in the

Mona Lisa. Rose petals lead the way to a staircase up to a

balcony with the softest lanterns, glowing.

My heart hurts here-

not from the nicotine nor the caffeine nor my lost and misplaced

love for you-

but for those prisons in the United States holding my beautiful people,

for the ability to see the current governance of our territories

as the culmination of 1,000 years of patriarchy spill out of one

man’s twitter account and into decisions about my womb, the water, and the oldest,

oldest, oldest, trees.

It’s for you, you precious journalists in prison

all over the world, you story-tellers of truth

and possibility.

It’s for you indigenous peoples, my peoples, denied their land

and so their culture,

and so their language who wouldn’t separate the two-

again      and again     the seagulls fly over Istanbul

the skies clear after the rain

my chest tight and arms full of the anise bread of Easter.

We’ll resurrect a story of forgotten fishes,

languages spoken by the curandera in dreams.

Eternal optimism on the eternal horizon     just as rainbows      through   the    waters.

Little i would be a bird who soars.

Old lanterns, old friend

Istanbul is a waning moon.

I welcomed the giggle-gurgle under me as I stepped off the metro for the first time into the evening light and was greeted by a well inside and all about: the colorful string of triangular flags in a soft spring breeze, hand-woven rugs for sale, the smell of fresh bread, a buzzing language I do not yet speak, and the light of evening just so in the pastel of old buildings. It was like a hundred butterflies spilling out of my chest, like an old belonging easy to welcome and accept-

“It’s a good day to fly.”, my momma said to me as I sat anxiously in the airport, my head dull from a headache my father was understanding- as he yawned in our coastal language its dull pain went away. While Mom talked to me she starred at the ocean, also waiting for the waning April moon, waiting for the right moment to call.

The work we do to retell the stories in the cobble stone underfoot is at best a surrender to the quiet unconscious. It sometimes is as loud as the birds at dusk, or as wonderous as a ghostly seagull, an opaque off-white in the purple night sky. Seven stories high, the clothes out to dry on the clothes line moves in sun and beeeze and I sigh as ocean air is Bosphorus and filling me out and in like lanterns that sway from door hangers. In my lifetimes I have been followed by port cities and mourning doves, coffee and ocean mist. What is love, my beloved, but the everlasting promise to protect and praise that which is free and flowing?

I walk awake in symphony of present human stories all making me, shaping me, the clay of a potter humming– but in my dream I can barely see the old lanterns of this ancient city aflicker at the doorways, lining the street and implying a change in direction. My feet a walking, walking, walking.

all we need is here on earth

rosehips dry on old news

and reviews. otter sleeps

still as a puddle at noon

beneath the picnic table in

the thicket of the out-of-doors.

 

these doors, this house, made

of wood, and a few trickster

bolts and screws.

 

it’s october and still hot

and the heat is good to dry the

acorn meats, freshly shelled,

glossy acorn meats from the

valley and very alive oaks

at school.

 

jumping head first into the glossy blue

ocean water turned red from the

atomic firework over the horizon. we

were becoming

we became and now are women. it

was a ceremony and a graduation.

 

clinging like a praying mantis to the

agate rocks of red and green

and jade, i stayed still amidst the

fury of the earth’s scream

a scream unlike any we’d heard,

enough to pull the animals out of their

chatter. enough to keep me still and

transfixed on the rocks, on home.

naked and confused we took

the children back to the meadow to

graduate. they are no longer babies

they will be young adults with sadness

and too will discover the pain of living.

we try to protect them but know it is futile.

the lugubrious sky sings their lullabye

westwards.

 

the sky has been broken, many times before,

by the dictators complaining of their midday

meal. Who send men out to fight for their

own greed.

 

That scream. The explosion. I know you

remember. There’s a solitary violin

being played by a thin man in red

trousers at the light house.

 

the rosehips are drying in the news

and review’s words

the noonday heat.

Birth

It’s here, it’s here. The back door

flew open and a wind came around my ankles

and blew life onto my cheeks as I stood bare-

foot in the kitchen. The blue sky is alive with

it, I hear a wind chime flutter blusterly outside.

It’s here.

 

Let go. Let go. So tight your muscles are with the

weight of it all, but you child, don’t have to carry

that weight any longer. It’s here, it has song all

ready for you to sing, and it can handle your bundle

on that strange journey out to the farthest reaches.

 

Plump persimmon fell on the first day of Autumn.

Sat like a pumpkin on my stoop that faces north.

The wind has been about since yesterday, I heard

Old Mother coming in a dream at the full moon.

 

It’s here, it’s time. Trust the breaking, underneath

the rubble is something you so desperately need,

collectively, together, a hummed tune, your worry

some humus in a mixture turned by the great patience

of a grandmother.

 

And for the sake of doubt and shame, let him go. And

for your grandmother, alone in her apartment – Rosemary.

 

It’s here. Come out and greet it. There is power in that welcoming.

Midwife what is dying and let it go. And birthed anew is autumn.

You dreamed of your pregnancy, you gave birth to a beginning. It’s

time for songs of  a new year, a new year, a tra la la la new year –

time to collect and gather, sit and disperse, child. Honor the dead

with your vigil and song, feed them the sweet cakes of the harvest

and finish your work for the year, child- a gift you’ve been weaving to bring

to the alders who do loose their leaves come winter down at the water.

 

Gracias hermano, gracias. I’ll always be here for you, he said. Let’s talk soon,

daughter, how is your headache? It hurts, father, and I am no longer

scared to tell you.

work

 
 
There is always so much work to be done, child
dreaming of Columbines and Lupin– a spring after
verdant winter.
 
Great Egret now stands starring fiercely at traffic, body poised
for the frogs that might jump up from the new tiny creek who bubbled
up from earth during this wet winter. A creek between two highways,
because highways are built to follow the lowlands, the paths of least
resistance, as the water knows. This is why you see willows by the side
of the freeway.
 
There will be great loss, child.
You cannot brace yourself, as much as you may try,
against a coming wave. But you know this.
Your father taught you to watch the water before
swimming: observe for hidden undercurrents or rocks
that might thwart your sleek swimming body.
And so do not fret about that which you cannot control.
Witness, observe, listen, child.
 
And for your grief, and your cultures untended grief: visit
the water, child. Do not waste your time with sentimentality.
 
The screech owl is outside my window.

kite hands glowing

I haven’t seen you in a long while, glowing winter. For some years now so many of us have missed the constant sounds of patter and pitters on the roof tops or whole tops of redwood families covered in mist that is sweetly relentless. You were the initial spark, stormy winter– the combustion and explosion of kite hands glowing– a gesture more than an attitude; the last time I passed so much time alone and yet, and yet, with such good friends. When I once rode my bike and walked the neighborhoods for days nodding back at the morning glories, who would open between rain spells as the rays of sunshine opened tender, indigo, trumpet, petals. There was so much nodding to do! Goodness and at night I could not sleep for there were moon-lit streets to walk upon and shh, listen, to the storm drain singing with water drops. It was Winter after all, and soon it would be Spring, and at last, the rains had come and these beloved territories were verdant in an old song that I could just barely make the tune out to but I sure knew the dance. There was so much commotion about it! The cormorants were talking about it, as were the phoebes and the towhee people. Every sunset and sunrise had its own unique handsglowing celebration.

Like café con leche drunk at palm latitudes.

This is another of those winters to springs. At last, I stirr, at last. There might be a large earthquake. At least there was last time this happened, in Chile, many miles south but a kindred territory along the ferocious Pacific plate that could swallow this whole in blackness if so chooses to. But I am still learning signals of things. I can sometimes read the obvious but other days it passes me by. If it was so, we may tremble at the horror of it. The pounding waves may speak of the loss to come, but the earth breaks too in celebration, remember. In circumstance, space, and time: or I should say, the rug woven of particularities (your ability to be it) the horizon, and the ground below.

But regardless if the earth quakes or not, regardless if you are measured or disturbed by casual desecration, or regardless how one learns to read the openings, those rare tears in fabric, there will be talkings. The nodding of the morning glories, for example, or the bookends of the warblers. I wonder, how many doves sat today on the telephone pole outside your house? It is one of those Winters. It’s one of those Winters where life springs back from the sleeping earth, where water unimaginable seeps through the cracks and down into the impossibly dark earth and collects in underground pools for later. Future past-collide times. It’s a winter where, when the clouds do part, and the mosses sing and the lichens hum, the two-legged people emerge out onto the beach with a sandstone  arch and clothe their children in warm jackets, and pull out a kite from their day-bags. The kite will catch a northern wind and will soar as the sun sets in a south western horizon. The sky is pale pinks and blues of a California winter. And I am nestled contentedly in the willows where the creek meets the sea.

And regardless, this IS kite hands glowing, because it’s a Winter to Spring just like many moons ago when you left me here, in a territory that birthed me and re/membered my wings. You were gone. You  were gone and I went outside and sometimes photographed what I saw, but mostly, but mostly, I flew.

And how things cycle back again, I do not know, but they do.