Praying to Ancestors

Thinking the Dead have the answers
– that if we could speak to them
they would give us the knowledge
we have not yet acquired in living –
I pray to a formerly flawed human
who I long thought of as a saint,
asking for guidance, asking for help,
forgiveness and wants of the living.
I summon my ancestors, my father,
men I once loved who left too soon
when all I had needed was to ask
myself the admittedly trite cliché:
what would you do if it were you?
What path becomes best if breaths
become numbered? Well they are.
Here is the funny thing: the dead
and the alive, as it turns out, we
tend to share the same answer.

(written in 2018; edited for ColetteKay.com)

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Landmania

At the feet of mountains, meadows and shores I turn from busy-minded woman to awed servant of our earth. I breathe the pines smelling like childhood camping and hold to mind valleys cradling cloud shadows in the afternoon, once in Montana and another time in New Mexico. 

I know now: that the still of a mountain lake arrives twice daily, at each end of the light; the embrace of everyday grass under bare feet; the change in the air that signals an ocean is a few miles out of sight; a love affair that, next to humans loving one another deeply and intimately (the only way worth doing it), most makes apparent life’s worth.

Love and land. Currency of choice, given the choice.

A stretch of road once led (still does) through northern New Mexico toward Colorado. Such flat, open ground is good for the mind. It doesn’t change at every turn; it doesn’t make you work to maneuver through it or ask much of you but to hold reasonable speed, if you like, and keep one eye out for the pronghorn.

If arriving somewhere new at night, then you are not yet there. The exploration begins in the morning, when the sun rises to reveal the surroundings. The evening before was merely counting a series of freeway exits, unpacking the car and falling into the bed or chair or arms of wherever your inner compass has taken you.

“I began to feel I loved the land and to know that I would never forget it. There I would go for long walks alone. It was alive, I was sure of it. I wanted to identify myself with it, to lose myself in it.” – Jean Rhys

(written in 2014; edited for ColetteKay.com)

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Red Nails

Painted this morning, I
began to wonder

whose back can I scratch
and when I do

will this aid my quest to
take the world

and turn it into a place
I, too, can own?

Create for me such a role;
I will hold the

pen between my fingers and
sign my name!

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Summer Sound

The new sound came
from somewhere
(I don’t know where)
unmarked, like a letter
with no sender address
just as smooth-edged
as you might picture
and was welcomed
even I say ushered in;
a melodic relief it was
fingered and opened
allowed to unroll itself.
Afterward breath felt
less grim than before,
new skin formed and
could hold more of it,
like how you might feel
if prayers were heard,
finally, after all that time
hoping on your knees.

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La Nouveauté

For something new
for an Eastern sound
for a tree that holds its leaves
for my body to conquer its swelling belly

For my mind to conquer itself
for my hands to find new notes
for flowers of unrecognizable fragrance
unfolding before me in a meadow unexpected

For a byway, for a conversation,
for a person I also did not expect
for time to go backwards, or
for it to leap to this day next year and there we are

For animals to speak and
for ghosts to appear and to
finally catch spirits moving objects, or just
for one full day of names I have never said aloud

For those names to not recognize me
for anonymously wandering a grocery store
for lack of how have you beens and instead
new names attached to canvasses who I have not met

(June 13, 2019)

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