Thirty Candles Burning
I never expected the betrayal, the dew so sweet
I hit it under my tongue and didn’t tell a soul.
Days passed, and I didn’t sleep. I untied all the ropes.
The morning thistled but couldn’t tempt me.
I brushed my hair with a gold-toothed honeycomb.
The lion’s claws hung around my neck but weren’t trophies.
When I could no longer keep the dreams at bay,
he choked me. He left me at the city gate.
The sun sank on all I destroyed in death;
no one learned a lesson.
Your Hands, Instruments of God
after Francesca Bell
Oh, the mooring. The fishing boat stranded,
sandbarred & unsaved. Who can salvage
when each net is tangled in coral, when
what is underneath & unseen is fated.
Then the pierced palms. The feet calming
the storm, no more waves, no more wind.
How the moon suddenly dimmed. How
what could be taken was instantly salvaged.
What the current knows
is how to pulse my harmony,
a push-pull of depth. Barked
on a branch, gasping for air.
A life in the river is no life at all;
it’s a drowning. What to learn
from Moses — the letting go
is the blessing. How the tears
flow only until surviving kicks in.
How the shore is relief.
Crocodiles thrash upstream.
Which is another way of saying —
if you swim back, you’re dead meat.