Joy Harjo

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Plums Tasted

The plums tasted
sweet to the unlettered desert-tribe girl-
but what manners! To chew into each!

She was ungainly, low-caste, ill mannered and dirty,
but the god took the fruit she'd been sucking.

Why? She knew how to love.
She might not distinguish
splendor from filth
but she'd tasted the nectar of passion.

Might not know any Veda,
but a chariot swept her away-
now she frolics in heaven, ecstatically bound
to her god.

The Lord of Fallen Fools, says Mira,
will save anyone who can practice rapture like that-
I myself in a previous birth
was a cowherding girl
at Gokul.

-  Mirabai

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

How You Know

How do you know if it’s love? she asks,
and I think if you have to ask, it’s not,
but I know this won’t help. I want to say
you’re too young to worry about it,
as if she has questions about Medicare
or social security, but this won’t help either.
“You’ll just know” is a lie, and one truth,
“when you still want to be with them
the next morning” would involve too
many follow-up questions. The difficulty
with love, I want to say, is sometimes
you only know afterwards that it’s arrived
or left. Love is the elephant and we
are the blind mice unable to understand
the whole. I want to say love is this
desire to help even when I know I can’t,
just as I couldn’t explain electricity, stars,
the color of the sky, baldness, tornadoes,
fingernails, coconuts, or the other things
she has asked about over the years, all
those phenomena whose daily existence
seems miraculous. Instead I shake my head.
I don’t even know how to match my socks.
Go ask your mother. She laughs and says,
I did. Mom told me to come and ask you.

Joe Mills

Monday, May 16, 2011

Love Story

The kitchen door opens onto dirt
and the second half of the country
all the way to the Pacific. Rusted
prairie trains out of the tall weeds
elbow the last century aside, rumble
from every direction towards Chicago.

My great-grandfather, who would be
150 years old today, put on his one
tall hat and took the big trip
to Omaha for my great-grandma
with the family ring on his vest
and winter wheat lying wait in seed.

He gave her all the miles he had
and she gave him the future I walk
around in every day. The mountains
were too far west to count so they
doubled back over the land and century
and the real weather kept coming from them.

James Doyle

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Waterwings

The mornings are his,
blue and white
like the tablecloth at breakfast.  
He’s happy in the house,
a sweep of the spoon
brings the birds under his chair.  
He sings and the dishes disappear.

Or holding a crayon like a candle,  
he draws a circle.
It is his hundredth dragonfly.
Calling for more paper,
this one is red-winged
and like the others,
he wills it to fly, simply
by the unformed curve of his signature.

Waterwings he calls them,  
the floats I strap to his arms.  
I wear an apron of concern,  
sweep the morning of birds.  
To the water he returns,  
plunging where it’s cold,
moving and squealing into sunlight.
The water from here seems flecked with gold.

I watch the circles
his small body makes
fan and ripple,
disperse like an echo
into the sum of water, light and air.  
His imprint on the water
has but a brief lifespan,
the flicker of a dragonfly’s delicate wing.

This is sadness, I tell myself,
the morning he chooses to leave his wings behind,  
because he will not remember
that he and beauty were aligned,
skimming across the water, nearly airborne,  
on his first solo flight.
I’ll write “how he could not
contain his delight.”
At the other end,
in another time frame,
he waits for me—
having already outdistanced this body,
the one that slipped from me like a fish,
floating, free of itself.

Cathy Song

*****************************
Cranes in August

They clutter the house,
awkwardly folded, unable
to rise. My daughter makes
and makes them, having heard
the old story: what we create
may save us. I string
a long line of them over
the window. Outside
the gray doves bring
their one vowel to the air,
the same sound
from many throats, repeated.

Kim Addonizio