FOR LEILA SHULAMIT
So much of our history means nothing,
which is to say it means no more than yours.
I will find a sunny place in shadows
to smell the end of winter. When the spring
vaults the sky and lands on both frozen feet
and begins thawing, you may think I see
what is not there and never will be here,
but that is a raw dish of death life holds
tightly with fingers arthritic to touch,
that cannot grasp or be grasped without pain.
There is nothing certain to come of this.
The birds have forsaken the missing tree.
The sky fills blue chests, the ships fill with sail.
I would hope something awaits to learn from.
Chicana sephardi, listen to songs
as though you could hear with your mother’s ears.
They are all old songs. You listen and love
the dip of a knee, head held high, the old
sounds running water heralding the warmth
of her eyes, her lips, all of her is yours,
you want to follow the beat of your pulse,
you remember while waiting in her womb,
already seeing the shape of your life,
Leila Shulamit, how the shadows fall,
your fingers drumming down their splintered length,
the work of days and nights come to bless you,
sleep delivering you from all that’s gone,
waking to breathe the tattoo of morning.
(25 March 2011)
copyright 2011 by Floyce Alexander