By Gillian Kessler:
Flapper Press is proud to publish original poetry from our writers and readers. This month we present two more poems from teacher/poet, Gillian Kessler.
I Am No Longer Afraid of Open Space
I carry the dog up the steps, bones.
When is it long enough
to have lived long enough?
Years taste like cinnamon and honey,
warm milk. Remember?
You reminded me that sometimes, it’s cruel
to keep things alive. One girl says:
Isn’t it more cruel to kill her and
isn’t that just the question of the day.
I want to be with her when she dies, she says.
I see her at her grandfather’s bedside.
His feet were hardened kelp beds, toenails golden swords
reaching for sun. I was there too.
I felt the air lift and soften
and when we finally drove home,
a cliché rainbow rose above the hearse and
we traveled side by side.
Your death smelled of cut grass,
It’s been suddenly so many years.
You’ve died so many times.
I used to run the overpass.
Stare down between chain-link,
sky smudged blue, cars scintillate,
perpetual. Still succulents grew. Still,
I was looking for you.
You sang of spinning and I smelled your
smoke and shampoo and the soft of your
skin. There is so much that continues
to drift in and out. That payphone in Berkeley?
You were there so fast.
My tributary of bad choices
strewn along the coastline.
Remember the smell of garlic in Gilroy?
All that irrigated earth, so odd and lonely,
so out of the blue?
That’s how you come to me now.
Trees and Light
I want to do to you
what water does to earth
up high here in these
mountains, yellowing aspens
lucent, moonlit, long mustaches of
larch like the unconventional spirits of
ancestors, their migrations and
commitment to new burrows,
I am flower and bird,
ashen pebbles and remnants of spruce
and cedar. I am this slight
and soft wind on a bare
shoulder, the shrill sound of a small
girl, her knees high step in a skip
on the sunlit path,
bare feet calloused and
sure on this forest floor.