First Published by RædLeafPoetry-India 3 Poems- Linda Hogan archived/Published on 01.14.2015
When I was a girl
old women told me if I were generous
I could paint the part in the middle of my hair with red.
Red ochre. Red paint. Red lipstick.
But it seemed not right
to reveal to the world
that I am generous, because the announcement took it back.
So unlike other girls,
I appeared selfish and ungiving
although I gave so much away,
but who would ever know.
I gave too much.
I think of the many red parts,
the parting of the sea
by Moses who was leading his people
in a never-ending story, the parting in the red stem
of the plant for bad lungs,
the parting of the heart
when one part works against the other
and the veins in their miles
flow back again and again
But the red part I recall the most
had to do with generosity, our giving up
the land again and again
to those who so wanted it. We parted with our
clothing, our children, and on our way
we left the red part
of a blood trail
across the land
like writing that would
be a book, that would
or after us.
I forget too many things
but I will never forget the dancers
in the stone church out far in the country.
It was night. The milk in the cold sky
was strongly drawn.
Inside we sat with tea
and the men came out,
nodded at one another, just men
in white robes
and it seems music began
but that I can barely remember
because the men began encircling themselves
at the very core of life
and whirling, stepped in together,
their robes opening out
like tender flowers in first spring.
It seemed the sky unfurled
in all its starlit splendor,
one white moon in the darkness
and the world began to bloom warm again.
The human all had vanished
as we were entranced
and nothing in this world could have missed it.
All this, all this, because something in the human
was silenced and dancers opened in their life
to something greater in the darkness
and we were there with them,
as we became one of them
in a world that bloomed one winter night
from inside a dark building of stone
that fell away from all of us.
Where do you wish to put down anchor,
to remain, still and silent, but awake,
safe on this skin
of water-held mystery
as the sun path moves across
the long tilt of the world,
tumbled down to tidal smoothness,
or where the moon lies down on night water
in its changing dance?
The barnacles open their closed lives
and they, too, are new,
changing from object to subject
in each life sentence.
From beneath the surface of those waters
the sheltered night shells float up,
still alive inside shining vessels that grow
by the cycles of that moon.
Surely the harbor is a place where magic
is our daily shelter, water our daily bread,
and where ships wash in with hidden cargo.
Inside all these
resides a deep something without a name,
just known and felt, opening unseen
and it can be held but never touched.
When the ships arrive
I hope you see a woman,
a woman in this harbor, safe in this life.
I hope she lives in my skin
and with all her mornings of starting over
she is still anchored,
not going to sea,
not through the channel
to a greater world,
just held in her place
waiting out the weather
and the storms of yet another history.
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Jan 15, 2015 0CALL FOR: This is an invitation call for poetry editors, scholars, professors and creative writing geniuses to be a part of a mammoth project on contemporary world poetry of major Diasporas. WHAT IT IS NOT: This is not another anthology or a mere collective of poetry. This is a much...