rabbit and rose

issue 05













CONSIDERING OCEANS

I

Inside the museum this sultry afternoon,
the air-conditioned hum offers an imitation
peace like that of libraries and empty churches.
I wait for you, as I have promised,
promising myself this afternoon will do no damage
to an earlier oath, watching out the window
where the sun shatters
against the fountain’s water and water
transmutes to something other than air or water.
Though I sit at the point of betrayal,
my face feels smooth and unyielding
as the face of Saint Teresa
gilded on peeling wood or the sea
on the wall before me, becalmed yet broken
by the ship’s hull and dorsal fins.
The ocean next to that one is all drowning
storm and cloud, as if the two paintings were
before and after, the seeds of one
hidden in the other.

II

Must it always be one or the other?
My husband’s love laps at my closed shore,
then slides back into turquoise depths, a lake
his love, no sea like yours,
gray ocean breakers rolling over
galleons and frigates and the backs of whales
and sharks and squid and dolphins who
leap and squeal as they follow the sails
of men (and now their motors), catching rides
on the wakes of ships. He has no dolphins
in him, only freshwater fish, frogs and trees
under the water, a sunken forest
drowned with its squirrels, snakes, ants and bees
that once made a world, reduced
to a floating green crest.

III

We whisper in deep-carved shadows
of the recreated medieval chapel.
They built to keep the heat and sun out.
The dark ages knew
summer draws insanity and sin,
a poultice pulling infection from the soul
to burst in the sun.
It was always summer in Eden.

IV

Mother of Perpetual Help,
with your slanted eyes hurt
by visions of your later Son
who sits now, infant, in your hand, a perfect
fit, and takes your thumb
between his palms, as if to suck,
pray for us.

Mother of the Word Incarnate,
though attended by angels
floating near your narrow ears,
though surrounded by hieroglyphics
and striped everywhere,
your Son as well, with gold,
though you wear a halo crown,
despise not our petitions.

Virgin of Virgins,
in paint, wood, song, stone, clay,
I stand before this incarnation
with its blue porcelain necklace
and long hands that cup your Infant
as if you would never let go.
Help us, we pray.

V

We enter the twentieth century
on the floor above. Neon tubes,
gears and ratchets, kinetic
sculptures flashing dissonance,
disjointed collage, counterfeit
museum guard so real
you ask for directions to the men’s room,
have to get them from the small black
woman in uniform in the corner.
I turn back,
down the marble stairs,
run through the Egyptians
all the way to the Coptics, hide
among flat-faced icons, holding my breath
from fear of your finding me, of what I will want to do
if you do. I watch you pass the massive stone
lion-casket on your way out.
I breathe again
in pain.

VI

In these halls of art, Mother,
I call on you with your human face
and divine Lover who came
only once, leaving you to someone else’s
kindness. I can see how hard
your life must have been with him
always forgiving.
Yet he loved the boy.
Of course, you were innocent,
they say, and angels smoothed
your way with Joseph afterward. None of them
will come to my husband, asleep,
to tell him I’ve escaped burning
but not the ocean.

VII

Am I any less lost in the storm
because it has a frame?
The Englishman who laid down
the paint so long ago felt
the lash of rain, shivered to thunder’s
blast, saw lightning burn
its way across the clouds to the sea,
even if he stood before a tea table
on floral carpet as he splashed ocean
across canvas. His tempest rages before me
six generations later. Drenched,
I wander home.

Published in Heart’s Migration (Tia Chucha Press, 2009)

Linda Rodriguez

Source

Earth-cold, water flows from the dark,
spills over tumbled stone at the cave mouth
through tangles of sun and shade, then into
channeled bedrock; it surges down
the long, slow bones of the mountain,
suffused with light and a faint tang of cedar
no descent however sheer can fully undo.

Howard Miller

Clear Lake

Shimmering waters
reflecting bright sun
just like summers since
red skinned people
deer otter birds bees
played the chorus
of life together.

Back then the children
played by the beach
while mothers watched
picked medicine,
wove baskets. The men
fished in the shade
further down the shore.

In between, sometimes
they launched small boats
stirring up "big waves"
knocking down the sand
sculptures that children
kept rebuilding right
on the water line.

When the boats moved out
the fish moved in.
Watching the children
play watching the men
fish trying to chill
just like everyone
else feeling the heat.

Later the moon rose.
The lake showed the
sky its face hiding
her own soul from the
moon who was looking
at the sun hiding
from fish and men alike.

The men stayed out
late while their mates
waited and watched
out, told stories to
sleepy children of
fish and birds and dreams.
Sometimes men brought fish.

They reached beyond
the mirror and pulled
back the unseen to
make it real in the
real world of hunger
growing children and
developing brains.

Other times they brought
only the smell of fish.
Even the best, the ones
who knew how to tire
a fish out first and
then bring it in would
sometimes catch nothing.

The catfish swam right
around bait, to find
their own meal below
the surface below
other fish gliding
like dancers between
moon rays and fish lines.

Now, there are still red
people around and
lots of other folks.
Roads circle the lake
and fences frustrate
deer, otter, birds bees
and it still gets hot,

and the children play
on the beach while their
mothers watch relax
into summer's slow
rhythm and the men
fish from the shade of
the dock down the shore.

In between, sometimes
they launch motor boats
stirring up "big waves"
knocking down the sand
sculptures that children
keep rebuilding right
on the water line.

When the boats move out
the fish move right in
watching the children
play watching the men
fish trying to chill
just like everyone
else feeling the heat.

Martha Cinader Mims

Reflections on Water

Sitting by water I look,

      And see it move without effort,

           Around, over, under, through,

                The bones of the earth.

Clear and pure it flows like the people's spirit,

      Like our stories told,

           By the old people,

                Without seeming effort.

The stones resist patiently, sometimes angrily,

      Like other peoples who deal with us,

           Many colored and shaped and hardened,

                Smooth, rough, round, angular, all kinds.

The water covers them all,

      It covers and moves the stones,

           Without effort or judgment,

                Enduring it moves mountains.

Finally, the water will win,

      Cleansing and purifying,

           Its victory is final,

                The stones disappear.

Moving without effort,

      Our spirit and stories will endure,

           Our victory in time, will be,

                Like water.

John D. Berry

storyteller

for iness little sanderson

i drive toward the arms of the canadian river
it calls to me
jealous of the hudson
murmering beneath my window
through long winter nights

rain sequins the windshield
a shy moon hides itself behind a veil of black clouds
radio stations fade with the passage of miles

in Oklahoma an owl waits silently
amid the rubble of my great-granny’s house
her face shines out from its eyes
its wings brush the cracked edges of memory

grandmother
you were silenced before you could
finish telling me the stories
i am coming home
i am listening everywhere
for your voice.

From Work Is Love Made Visible, West End Press, 2009


Jeanetta Calhoun Mish

“Thirst”

All my life I have thirsted
I came here thirsty
I pray for relief, and touch the
green earth, hoping for new life.

Kim McMillon

Ocean

Awesome
     alluring abundance
Ocean.
Beautiful
      blue becalmed beaches
Ocean.
caressing
      carefully chosen coastlines
Ocean.
drenching
      dodging dancing down damp dunes
Ocean.
everyday
      energy evincing enjoyment
Ocean.
fuflilling
      fantasys forever
Ocean.
generous
      gifts granted gracefully
Ocean.
Heavenly
      Hawaii here home has health, healing
Ocean.
intered
      in inner imagination’s intuition.
Ocean
Journeys
      joining justice.
Ocean.
Kamaaina
      kissing kingdom keepsakes,
Ocean.
loving,
      laughing, luring, longing,
Ocean.
moving
      moments, meaningful memories
Ocean.
nearing
      nirvana.
Ocean.

Mary Jean Robertson

WATER, LIGHT, SAILS UP! RECKLESS

water, light, sails up! reckless in the wind!

we are going, we go! dark waters chop

crayola says the color is this: Midnight Blue. I name you this, sea

(the favorite, the deepening, for comfort, a sweatshirt this color in winter against the rain, for basketball under drizzling skies inland)

but dahls porpoises that played moments ago are gone, we outside on decks sloshing, now it’s turning dark, late winter storm coming!

to the tiller! ok! I rush. tiny hands undoing knots. one sail slack. we are bobbing in the water, it chops like our axe back home on winter wood, on the sides of The Otter, hard, on our small boat

suddenly in all the action, though we all must jump to feet, survival, save, not close to shore nor harbor, my child’s mind flashes, inconveniently:

warm dinner indoors, spaghetti or glowing shrimp from a night catch, a gentle hand on my back

sing Raffi songs long enough to drive everyone nuts

adopt-a-whale bubblegum pack

my friends, new saddle shoes, our chickens, my new book

it’s all waiting for me; all growing more dear, our storm worse, not better, San Juan Island rain pounds millimeter needling splashes into my fat redcold cheeks

Midnight Blue chops staccato unearthly experimental rhythms into our hull
new song, this storm, frightening, violence of nature, force we are at the mercy of!

all hands on deck! we are! tie her off starboard! ok! Midnight Blue, I pray at you, be gentle with us! I want to go back to school

and suddenly you do, winds ease, why she’s - nevermind,

she is

calm, with a light wind

we sail in

by Brianna Lea Pruett

Red River Moan

Gathered in voice we emerged from this river
scuffling calls like water on banks till new
mewing cries bent bodies of bare breasted
women roped, netted like baskets of crayfish.
Red clay like me, our own men come to trade
at this Fort St. Jean Baptiste aux Natchitoches.

Is that sunshine his pathway may cover
And the grief of the Red River Girl.[1]

Red skin, red blood, bodies break, bodies take, mewl cauls
Chitimacha, Natchez to slave, us Cadeaux, Lipan sex make
Just shy ninety years click by and these planters of cotton
and cane, slaves, and those known as gens de couleur libres a
quarter count us in their blood, over half that number runs Indian
slave, blue bodies cost, but Lipan woman for only 50 dollars.[2]
Red skin, red blood, bodies break, bodies take, sex breaks.
Chitimacha, Natchez to slave, us Cadeaux, Lipan mewl calls.

Is that sunshine his pathway may cover
And the grief of the Red River Girl.

We emerged from this river, made of red
clay, broke from earth and water struggled to
breath, and yet our wrists still harbor rope burn.
Our cries trembling blue notes like muscadine
skin. While you have wandered into the sun, the
blood in our women warbles a red river moan.

Is that sunshine his pathway may cover
And the grief of the Red River Girl.

[1] “Red River Valley,” Edith Fowke version. Although it is much accepted that the 19th century ballad, “Red River Valley,” is set within the Canadian Red River bed, and Fowke makes an accepted argument that in its earliest form laments the love of not only land but that of Euro-Indian miscegenation during the Riel Rebellion. The irony of this song is not lost on those of us whose French descendants traveled the river, or similar waterways, intermarrying with Indian women, to settle in another Red River valley, creating more métis, mestizos, Creole, and Cajun peoples and cultures.
[2] See: Barr, Juliana. "From Captives to Slaves: Commodifying Indian Women in the Borderlands." The Journal of American History 92.1 (2005): 40-41

Rain Gomez