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Without a Net

1        

this is how days start

 

shelves of pale light

shifting

moving slowly

 

a body to be cleaned

and fed

and cloaked

 

a river of moments

to be swum

 

upstream

without instinct

or desire

 

like dogs waiting for a call

I vacillate

 

the doors are closing

 

one side

or the other

2    

my father survived

a burst aneurism

 

his skin turned gray

 

blood clamored in his throat

like birds at dawn

 

his lover’s presence of mind

and mercy hospital just minutes away

were his salvation

 

doctors peeled away

gray sky

silenced the birds

 

as he slept

memories leaked from hidden

places in his soul

 

he welcomed his life back

with a torrent of weeping

3

the baby has a cold

her first cold ever

 

I hold her against me

stroking her plump warmth

 

my shoulder aches

I shift her to the other

 

she spits up a hot stream

of pungent milk

 

everything I’m wearing

everything

needs to be washed

 

I’m picturing pellucid seas

in another country

 

dry paths

like seams of gold

 

I shift the baby to my lap

 

she blinks at me

flails her arms

and sneezes lavishly

 

I feel the fine spray

on my eyes and lips

 

this morning

I saw the photo of a germ

highly magnified

looking like a bright pink scorpion

 

I touch her nostrils gently

gesundheit I whisper

4

yesterday

on the news

 

a father murdered his children

in their sleep

 

an ordinary family

 

not barbarians tossing babies

like lumps of soft pink coal

into the ovens

 

not brutal invaders

playing football with the heads

of captured soldiers

 

a regular family

in the USA

 

the police officer said

once you’ve seen something

you can’t unsee it

5

sleepless

I float to the kitchen

 

an uneasy ghost

 

the dead who refuse

to stay buried

 

dropping layers of earth

in the corridor

 

the sky turns yellow

 

dawn songs bubble

from the throats of birds

 

the end of gravity

 

life as we imagine that

we know it

 

thoughts float from my eyes

 

this mouth was not essential

after all

 

this pen

 

is bobbing fluttering

to the rhythm

of the birds

6

soon it will be spring

 

I’m afraid this year

spring will be colder

than winter

 

I don’t want to turn into

one of those chirpy old women

reeking of solitude

 

but that’s the way

it’s going

 

I wrap myself

around you

like a cowl

 

not yet a tattered scarf

 

not yet a trailing too thin

derelict

7

this morning

the sky looks elderly

unrefurbished

 

rain scrapes

paint from walls

 

mould blooms beneath

 

3-D printers are producing organs

8

today a woman

passed me in the street

 

a parrot fastened

like a bright jewel

to her shoulder

 

another parrot

clinging

to her breast

 

traffic rumbled by

 

families toted bags

of weekend shopping

9

a neon coloured slug

strolls along the bottom

of the ocean

 

unaware of its splendor

of its strangeness

 

I slide my phone away

 

beside me

bobbing along the road

a gum-pink child’s balloon

10

my phone froze

 

its blank face mirrors

my blankness

 

I marshal my resources

stretch out feelers

of breath

 

reassure my fingers

clasping them

one after the other

 

relish the simplicity

of my heartbeats

 

I am  I am  I am

11

I’ve ordered tea

fresh green mint leaves

steeped in boiling water

 

the waiter smiles

 

we understand the rituals

of survival

12

rain at night

intentional

obscure

 

a steady patter

in a foreign tongue

 

along a rail

sleep pigeons

closed as bulbs

 

the moment’s coming

that will pry their wings apart

unlock their throats

13

without a net

 

a wingless bird

bulbous and heavy

 

cupped

in the wind’s hands

14

my head fits into the hollow

of my arms

 

like a nesting bird

 

twists round to make a place

for thoughts to grow

 

sheltered

warm

 

safe as an ark

that will float

as the waters rise

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