Tag Archives: Poem

Childhood

pink
 
We didn’t know each other
as children. I was six
when you were born
in a city not far from
the 400 acres
on which I was raised.
You were the youngest child
of a doctor and your skin
was brown like cafe latte
and I was pink like roses
and we were separated
by the sharp edges of
colour and class
in the time before people
could travel those things.

But still
there was the summer
I sang a solo
at the Anglican church
and every note shimmered
and the August light passed
iridescent through stained
glass onto the wooden floor
and I was
everything.

I knew you then,
my love, even though
we would not meet
for eighteen years.
 

The Gift

gift

My gift to you is your pain.
I won’t try to take it away from you.
I won’t wave my magic wand,
or speak enchanted words
to disappear the hard stuff.

I won’t sigh my old woman sigh
and say, “Poor you.”
I won’t even think it.

I won’t try to distract you
or cheer you up.

I’ll reach with both hands
into the soft paisley fabric of the universe
and make a space for you.
I’ll hold it for as long as you need.

Every lovely person I know
has made their way through.

The journey made them shine.
 

This post was first published as The Sunday Reader. If you’d like to receive these essays and poems directly in your mailbox every two weeks, you can subscribe here.
 

Pink and Blue Benevolence

YokoRome

It’s raining in Yokohama.
I hang my transparent umbrella
on a hook near the door.
Water drops fall
and explode
on the carpet below.
I sit at my desk.
I turn on the red lamp
and look out
the window.

I peer in shop windows
in ancient Trastevere
where the sun pours in
at the ends of the streets
like rain falling
sideways soaking
the streets golden.
The buildings are tinted
with sun-variations,
butter yellow and
cantaloupe orange.

It’s not a memory.
I don’t remember walking.
I am walking.

I walk
through a small piazza
where two friends
with golden retrievers
on red leashes
greet each other
with kisses
on each cheek.
The dogs move closer,
stand so their bodies touch,
share a memory of open fields.

I walk past the restaurant
where we had dinner
was it two nights ago?
The waiters mock
the foreigner students,
send away those
without reservations.
Yet to us, they are
kind
enough.
Kind the way that Romans are.

I pass the shop
where he purchased
the red ceramic bowl.
A Christmas gift.
The white haired shopkeeper
pushes her glasses
to the top of her head
just like I do.
She waves.
Come in.

I shake my head.
My inbox is too full.

We are at another restaurant
with white linen table cloths
and heavy utensils.
The man beside us
the patriarch
wears navy adidas pants
with three white stripes.
Three children devour their pasta
and make fun of each other.
They do both loudly.
Every few minutes
their mother says “taci”
and they are quiet
for as long as it takes
to remember
who they were teasing.
At the table on the other side
a young foreign couple
spends the evening
looking at their phones.
We order cacio e pepe,
mac and cheese for adults.
We wonder aloud if we could
make this at home.
Pecorino and pepper.
He says he thinks so.
He says he thinks
with some practice
he could get it.

From the safety
of street corner shrines
the Virgin Mary
regards us.
Everywhere
she is pink and blue
benevolence.
I believe
she is here for me,
my patron saint
of time travel.

In Yokohama
it is still raining.
My inbox is full.

Time is a circle.
 

Bon Voyage

Bon Voyage

When I was a girl
travellers wore their best clothes
on airplanes.
Family and friends
wished them
“Bon Voyage!”

Have a good trip.

Passengers now board planes
in sweatpants
and flip flops.
We send them off with
“Travel safely.”

Fashion
is the very least
of what’s been lost.
 

Grade 10 sends their love

10958536_657639174364089_661762620_n

On Thursday morning
in Grade 10 Wellness class
we wrote letters
of gratitude.

Letters.
Not emails.

An array of
coloured papers
and envelopes
covered the table
like a carnival
unfolded.

Students chose
their stationery weapons
but it was a good day
and no one fought
over Hello Kitty.

The rules.
1. Write a letter to a person in your life whom you appreciate.
2. Sending the letter is optional but encouraged.
{This might be scary but the recipient will appreciate it more than you can imagine.}

*Note to self:
The tricky thing about
“they will appreciate it more than you can imagine”
is that 10th graders cannot imagine that
and this is not their fault.

They plugged into their music,
their choose-your-own-sountrack.
As the late morning
sparked and simmered,
they curled like cats
around their love letters.

A girl asked if she could write
in another language.
My teacher impulse was to wonder
why
and 
what’s your angle?

Wait.

Kanji
were already swimming
on her page.

She had asked
so she could give the letter
to her grandmother.

{English is not required}
 

Languages I do not speak

LanguagesIDoNotSpeak

Mandarin.
Thai.
Japanese.

The secret language of hairstylists.

The linguistic and spatial aptitude
required to find
a round silver battery,
that tiny UFO,
in a Japanese department store.

The inexplicable banking
of planes.

Calorie counting
and the dialect of fashion magazines.
I’ve never conversed in the sillification of women.

Algebra.
Trigonometry.
Mysteries both.

I’m not fluent in sports.
(Well, maybe a little hockey.)

I did not speak
for decades
the language
of standing up
for myself

but now I am learning.