Chapter 4: PEACE AND HOPE
"Faith is taking the first step even when you don't see the whole staircase." Martin Luther King, Jr.
I never saw where I came from,
I never saw how a blind man sees;
Yet I know how the day breaks
And where I will go.
I never flew like a wild goose,
Nor led nine lives;
Yet I am certain of my place―
Each footstep across a landscape.
You pull apart my dream and step into it
it's you, I'd know you anywhere
the way you interrupt like a Cheshire Cat
coming into yourself one stripe at a time
or it could be your dream and I am the one
no matter, drawn aside is a silk curtain
my dream dreams of dreaming
until one of us vanishes into a smile.
I always used to think I was going somewhere:
to work at the little health museum under the movie theater
to a meeting with my boss at the hospital on the other side of town
to Paris where I could have an affair with a handsome Frenchman
to New York where I might find an agent to sell my book
to a romantic restaurant for dinner with my husband
to the movie
where a serviceman falls in love
to the movie
where a married couple is always fighting
to the movie
where an old couple looks backward and forward
wondering if they're still in love
back to my house, which is always in need of paint or repairs
to a better job
a better vacation
a better house
a better marriage
a better movie
a better life
Now I see all destinations as steppingstones—
just temporary stops until the last
the journey itself as a sack of diamonds
all journeys as one journey
with wind or wheels propelling me forward
through desert and forest as I create the only path
Lucille Lang Day
Nathalie Fabri, Spheres on Potrero Hill, Acrylic on canvas
for Jenny Smagala Luciano
It was never meant to be a practical guide,
if you are both blessed and cursed
to live from one surprise to the next.
In truth, you prefer the out-of-the-way places
to the paved land bridge across
what is always visible and taken for granted.
The unseen dots eventually connect
and make one wary of hope:
the lump that should not be there,
or the hesitant look that comes too late.
Children have taught you to accept
gratitude over happiness,
as you faithfully follow the heart's traceable map
of far dreams leading ever away
but always returning home.
What we make
I hold the mock sun by its string,
I want to move it from the front yard
to where the sycamores near the creek
need recognition, to where sky's promise
seems but one hand of a shadow,
these mornings when the thousand species
of bomb, available for study on any computer,
mesmerize the youth who long to escape
from thinking's flesh and cut one thing from another.
To see if blood is real, to fill the gap
between objects no longer in their memory,
to find some use in absence.
I can't save the youth or even myself but
there, on the computer, are the directions
to create a tissue paper sun, pictured against
a canvas of air. And I make it,
the way my mother-in-law made those
silk flowers to give as birthday presents.
I chose the deep red ones.
They reminded me of the red napkins
I loved at ten, folding them carefully
in my lap. Silk treasures I never used
to wipe my mouth.
Grace Marie Grafton
Judy Seidel, Working It Out #1, Acrylic & Mixed Media on Canvas
Walking the beach at Bodega Head
curlews busy at the work of fishing
their long bills flexing and picking
sorting and gathering
taking just what they need.
Gulls puffed with superiority
strut their hound's tooth coats
omnipresent eyes proclaim "I am."
A Nisei man drags his kayak up the beach
unpacks a crab trap with one lonely prisoner;
his wife snaps a photo, immortalizes the hunter's pride.
The lament of the fog horn punctuates the rarified air.
In this diorama
a young girl shapes an horno on the beach
the imperfect oval of its dome
grounding as a mother's breast.
The mystery of its convexity ending in blackness
an island of safety, a warm niche in my heart.
Today I renounce worry over things I cannot fix:
your obsession with religion,
I return to the isle of safety
the warm niche of my heart.
"Remember," he said, "when my
imaginary friend and yours
played with us in that big box
a refrigerator came in?
You said it was a castle and I knew
it was a fort, but it was
not worth arguing about."
His twins sit in the corner
under a bush, intent upon
of twigs and leaves
talking, but only rarely
to each other.
"They have them, too."
"Do they tell you?"
"No, I see them sometimes,
not when they come alone,
but when their papa brings them
he is a full grown dragon, now,
of course, but still, he
likes to have peanut butter
cookies with me
and talk about old times."
I sat on the elevated
train in the gray
that December afternoon
with the windows gaping open
like North Beach in June
on the way to Whitman's Mannahatta
to buy more presents
when a young, blue-veiled girl
crunching chips the way I used to do at her age
took a seat by my coat sleeve to peek at the video
on my phone of Latin rock stars mouthing lyrics
of love lost along a desert path.
And we sat on that train
as it coiled through the gray
sky on the way to the City,
each knowing, maybe,
the kind of lost love that crowds
the heart, seeking refuge
in the faceless promise of the same
next station, new season
next day, new love.
Peace and Hope
"How lovely you have grown!
For two decades I sought
news of you in the winds of storm
taking you from home.
You did not want a life becalmed,
yet my storms made you shy
when you were young. Such is my lot,
my habit of casting in and out,
untying at noon the promises of nine.
But now at last we meet again,
each seeking in the others' eyes,
not the eye of impending storm,
nor the near thunder of tantrum,
but––oh, come into my arms!
You took the road from me,
beyond my orbit––or was I cast out?––
no matter––a mother's lot––
now we meet in sunny perigree.