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Poems by Yerra Sugarman

ASH AND SCAR Their possible crumbled; consolation held captive in the blasted hive of a once Room. And shabby were the clusters of rain swollen on the panes While calendars clinging to the aspirin walls went silent And windows no … Read More

By / February 1, 2008

ASH AND SCAR

Their possible crumbled; consolation held captive in the blasted hive of a once Room. And shabby were the clusters of rain swollen on the panes

While calendars clinging to the aspirin walls went silent And windows no longer recognized the sky’s bracelet of stars.

The trapped noticed their fingers weave themselves into wreathes, That the knotted wood of home was no longer

Literal, that God needed mending. God was damaged. And still unfixed, There is not enough remorse for the weight of an eyelash

Of the ones whose beds were built by a carpentry of ash and scar. Sometimes, we stop to ask ourselves how we continue to live

In the moment, lumber over the drowsing Lilies and landmines, above which souls swarm.

Will there always be lace adequate for beauty and grief To approximate mourning, a sequence, without instructions?

The cameras focused on the emptied. Their lenses were sad, Memory carelessly stepping on ache — which always tells us liberty

Is its own form of captivity. Night blooming in the chests of the gone, Emitted a dark light. Where are the maps to their voices?

O, the clouds’ soft corridors; O, waves grinding the weakened spines Of shores; O, swinging doors onto nothing,

God kneads and bakes the dough of time, but what are its braided loaves to the crushed and famished?

THE LAMENTATIONS OF THE CROWS

And from the thin pitch of their throats, their caws scraped the wind, then landed

on our lawn: lamentations breaking out of crows —

whole notes on the staff of hard ground, fat with sorrow.

Early spring, they were an alphabet in flight. Each one a letter.

               Their bold script of wings                marked down warning, then mourning,

               inscribing the unpolished sky —                a plaque where the sun turned nimbus,

               a dull pearl, a patch, the March she died.

            *

Solitary my father — the wool of his voice,

the thinning part we could barely hear death reel in, raveling it and winding it around my mother’s dying.

               Its sound trailing her as sun whitened                the uneven flagstones on our porch.

               How he finally lay on his back there,                two and a half months later,                his will a force of gravity,

               his jaw clenched like a fist                fighting to reach her.

THIS MOMENT

But mostly, so resistant was the metallic sky — unyielding blade in a sheath of haze — of a season

in limbo, the almost spring, the infant grass sucking snow. And I felt the outsized days overwhelm

me like a girl playing dress-up in her mother’s brocade gown, grief filling the folds,

the tunnels between silk and legs. Lemon the gown, as in after a snowfall the sun

pouring citrus on my mother’s walker, its steel forming a triangle with the seam of a corner near her big kitchen window.

No way to know what she saw in the dried flock of rain on the glass or how rudderless the craft she was steering.

The distances different then from sink to pane, bed to chair, day to year.

In her white flannel housecoat, she’d raise her cup — a bud of ripening light.

I’d think God I’m not ready, fog lifting so we could see

the soft pendulum, outside, of the swaying tree. I’d beg her

to stay living. She’d teach me this moment

is the only moment, then go back to sleep,

her face divided by the bed’s railings, her housecoat hanging

on the glint of her walker and God

not listening.

AND GOD

And God, having sown,

having weeded, with the pearls

of his fists, having ripped

from her roots, she,

whom he’d planted, who

had grown from such seeds of grief —

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