Childhood Revisited

For orange jewelweed one flower
Is still a flowering plant

The youngest deer of the forest
Hear everything
With the transparent leaves of their senses

A red-spotted purple
Flies away with the sky

A paper wasp barely moves
The leaf on which it lands

A dead branch bursts
Into decaying life

Green frogs stretch
The gulp of their voices
Across the stream

Ferns brush themselves
Into the undergrowth

In nature the children
Of our shadows
Remember us as we were

The Day All the Grownups Cried

After my grandparents died their house was rented to people who skipped on the rent and soiled the house in every way possible. That day, when my mom and dad and uncles and aunts opened the door, they were all crying. Even then, a boy, I understood somehow all our memories had been desecrated, and I cried, seeing them cry. We burned everything that day. The fire blazed into the night. The house was stripped. My grandparents had a small, well kept, farmhouse with a lush piece of property complete with gardens, grape arbors and fruit trees. Sometimes late at night a plum would drop from a plum tree and plop into a rain barrel, like a clock that measured endless time, for me now, in teardrops.

My Life in Opera

Growing up in a house of pain,
You sacrifice everything for love.
Like the time my uncle tore open his shirt
And begged his brothers
To let him return to the love
He left in Buenos Aires,
Like the time my mother
Was scratching at her eyes,
Like the time my father both raged and wept.

Days were scenes without direction.
One day a cousin would stab herself
Or an aunt jump from a tower.
I didn’t know what was real;
But what passionate singing I heard,
Tenors, sopranos, baritones–
All around me in full voice;
And there I was, in love with Tosca,
Condemned to death,
And just twelve years old.

Snail Recipe

As a boy I dreamt snails,
Dreamt my mother was mother of snails
Who nursed them with milk and honey,
Cooked pastina, sage and basil,
To cleanse and sweeten the flesh.
I dreamt snails and cringed.
At dinner, I slowly picked snails from their shells,
Savoring dark morsels, eating my dream.