Starlings in Winter
Chunky and noisy,
but with stars in their black feathers,
they spring from the telephone wire
they are acrobats
in the freezing wind.
And now, in the theater of air,
they swing over buildings,
dipping and rising;
they float like one stippled star
becomes for a moment fragmented,
then closes again;
and you watch
and you try
but you simply can’t imagine
how they do it
with no articulated instruction, no pause,
only the silent confirmation
that they are this notable thing,
this wheel of many parts, that can rise and spin
over and over again,
full of gorgeous life.
Ah, world, what lessons you prepare for us,
even in the leafless winter,
even in the ashy city.
I am thinking now
of grief, and of getting past it;
I feel my boots
trying to leave the ground,
I feel my heart
pumping hard, I want
to think again of dangerous and noble things.
I want to be light and frolicsome.
I want to be improbable beautiful and afraid of nothing,
as though I had wings.
Regret nothing. Not the cruel novels you read
to the end just to find out who killed the cook.
Not the insipid movies that made you cry in the dark,
in spite of your intelligence, your sophistication.
Not the lover you left quivering in a hotel parking lot,
the one you beat to the punchline, the door, or the one
who left you in your red dress and shoes, the ones
that crimped your toes, don’t regret those.
Not the nights you called god names and cursed
your mother, sunk like a dog in the livingroom couch,
chewing your nails and crushed by loneliness.
You were meant to inhale those smoky nights
over a bottle of flat beer, to sweep stuck onion rings
across the dirty restaurant floor, to wear the frayed
coat with its loose buttons, its pockets full of struck matches.
You’ve walked those streets a thousand times and still
you end up here. Regret none of it, not one
of the wasted days you wanted to know nothing,
when the lights from the carnival rides
were the only stars you believed in, loving them
for their uselessness, not wanting to be saved.
You’ve traveled this far on the back of every mistake,
ridden in dark-eyed and morose but calm as a house
after the TV set has been pitched out the upstairs
window. Harmless as a broken ax. Emptied
of expectation. Relax. Don’t bother remembering
any of it. Let’s stop here, under the lit sign
on the corner, and watch all the people walk by.
In the Animal Garden of My Body
Marci Calabretta Cancio-Bello
Ask me again how the story should go. How much the underbelly of my garden held to bring forth spring, how much hunger I had to devour to get the sweetness I wanted from it. Did this devouring frighten you? I frightened myself in how much I promised to tell you if you asked me again about the water the water the water. What errors I made calculating the downward trajectory of memory rattling loose in the inhale, sharp in the shoulder blades exhaling like wings or whales or swizzles of light. Ask me again what I offered as a sacrifice to the rooster crowing his betrayal of morning. Forgiveness, what a sharp blade I press my body hard against.
~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~
Lisbon street art
Good morning, good morning. I was up again in the middle of the night last night, and didn’t get back to sleep until probably 2:30 or so. So when my alarm went off at 4 o’clock, my body laughed quietly, hit snooze, and proceeded to sleep for another hour.
The last several days, I take a dance class in the afternoon – which consists of me watching videos created months ago. I’ve been dancing along to a video that the instructors put together in honor of breast cancer awareness, and in the mix are two songs about okness, it’s ok not to be ok, and another one, the name of which I don’t know, but which always makes me cry: the singer is telling a friend or maybe even me, her listener, that I’m going to be ok, that I just need to keep going, keep on. (I look it up: Keep on, it’s called.) This song has been making me cry – fortunately, this song comes during the cool down part of the workout, so I’m not weeping through burpees or grapevines or something.
Something in me is grieving, is feeling a big loss. I wonder if it’s something that I’ve held in my body since 2012, when I qut my day job in order to focus my attention only on the workshops and writing, and proceeded immediately to have a huge back spasm that almost immobilized me for a month or more. Though the big pain eventually wore off, I’ve had a lingering tightness in my piriformis or sacroiliac joint (or something) that created some numbness down my leg and into my foot. Nothing too alarming, at least for me – I could move, I could walk and run and exercise and dance, and the more I moved, the more the numbness would let up. I just figured I needed to keep working, and eventually that little remaining tightness would release. It wasn’t exactly ok, but it was all right.
Good morning, good morning. It’s chilly here this morning, and I’m in my little
writing room with the candles lit the music very low, the dog curled up in her chair in a tight, small ball. We go walking a little in the yard under the misty moon. March is still winter in New England, but I have been finding some impossible signs of spring.
I had a very surprising experience yesterday – I felt wild joy. On Wednesday, after going for the first non-cone walk on the beach with Sophie after an operation to remove a little bit of her jaw (to remove a cancerous growth), I looked in the dry leaves and brown grass, made visible after all the snow melted over the weekend, and there, peeking up between branches and hay, were the tiny green shoots of crocus leaves. It seems altogether too early for this.
(Content note: There’s some talk of sexual abuse in today’s piece. Just be easy with you, ok?)
Good morning, good morning. It’s chilly this morning, and there’re some scatters of overnight snow on the ground, but at least our 80 mph winds with the below-zero windchill have died down for the moment.
My mom has been sewing masks for us. Here, I’m getting ready to go to the post office – I’m smiling under there, you just can’t see!
Hello hello hello –
Hey, I have a new book out! I’ll tell you more about it at the end of this post, ok?
I am beyond delighted to share the news about a new e-publication with The Massachusetts Review’s Working Titles series! – Jen