This is the first poem of mine I had ever heard read aloud. I had wondered about my poetry, whether it was any good or not. Whether it was worthy of publication in any way. I had been reading the works of my favorite poets, Piercy and Ciardi and Millay, wondering if I would ever like my own work as much. No, I was sure. No.
One late night, after a campfire and dinner with friends, driving from Jonesville back home to Gainesville, Florida, the radio on a local station, we listened to a show with a variety of music and poetry and prose. A poem came on, introduced not at all, without a title, and I listened, mind fixed solidly on the words and rhythm. This, this, I said to Lee, this is what I wish my work sounded like. I wish I could write like this.
A stanza or two in, I said this. Lee elbowed me, said, “but,” and I asked her to let me finish listening to it first. She elbowed me again and said, “That IS your poem.” I believe this was followed by an eye-roll. And, yes, indeed, it was.
And it was as I wanted it to sound. Said what I wanted a poem to say. I had written something I would want to listen to.
And there went my excuses.
Recognizing Kali in a Young Girl
Sitting here by the side of a two-lane
watching no cars go by
and steam rise in plumes
from the gaping hood of my automobile,
my daughter and I on this lonely shoulder
sitting, waiting for help.
Waiting for assistance.
Standing to stare into the engine
in a testosterone ritual predating cars
and trucks and carriages,
carts and wheels,
I imagine an early progenitor of my gender
staring intently into the mouth of a horse
checking teeth, gums, breath,
looking at the legs and feeling he wanted to kick something
but having no tires available
grabbed the beast’s cannon bone with a sturdy hand,
checking for splints.
Bubbling and boiling,
maybe this car will never move again
and I’ll have no reason to sit within its space
confined with hope of forced conversation with the little girl
too old to want to talk with her father
and too innocent to know why.
Turning away from the beast
I look to the field:
tall, short, colored like air and sun,
water and earth, dancing in the wind
with my daughter, swaying and swirling
with my daughter.
The old rabbis have said,
or so the Hassidic recount,
not a blade of grass grows,
not a leaf falls
that an angel does not make it so.
Classes of angels,
cloud angels and insect angels,
grass angels and tree angels.
Angels, then, for sunlight and rain
and for home cooking and pizza joints.
Angels for taxes and funerals and sex.
Angels for car engines.
Angels for little girls.
And there she is,
crouching among the blooms,
picking iris and narcissus.
(This poem, along with many others, can be found in various anthologies as well as my own book, The Phoenix and the Dragon: Poems from the Alchemical Transformation (Smithcraft Press), available, along with my other books, Tellstones: Runic Divination in the Welsh Tradition, and Bud the Spud, at your local bookstore, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo and elsewhere, for you reading needs, whether you like to hold books in your hands or read them on tablets or phones of Kindles or Nooks or, goodness gracious – so many options. You can find my author profile on Amazon and please find me as well at GoodReads.)