Featured Poet

Ruth Daigon


( Corte Madera, California )

Where the Moment Begins

He stood before the mirror trying it on
like a new silk suit. Although he
buttoned and unbuttoned it with care, it
never felt right, this new name.
But his children slipped into it
like worms in wet earth.

One day, he took it to the tailor
had it nipped in the waist, trousers cuffed
and when he came home from the shop
suspended it from a padded hanger
brushed the insults mouthed by strangers
still clinging like lint.

After supper he practiced writing
until his signature raised its head in greeting
Then he tongued new words clinging to his lips
like steamed milk scalding him a little
while the young spread sweet swarms of language
over mother's fresh baked bread.

When the children grew into their lives
they looked for gifts hidden in mirrors
reached into closets for his whole cloth suits
studied old photographs for the perfect fit
while parents lodged deep in seams
stitched them together.

Memory's tidal flow
lifts them into its dark arms.
Again, they see their father
at the kitchen table, sipping tea
through a sugar cube, smiling
If I could change us now we'd never change.

The past relived and almost understood
the children listen for his echoes calling
Back there, the family lay dreaming
of somewhere in another country.
This is the country
and now is where the moment begins.

The Whole Point

is to get somewhere.
Memory like a quiet child
shy slow-spoken tells us whatever it was we knew in this grassy world
of shards and pebbles water and wine
We're stuck like needles
fast in grooves
we churn and churn
trying to get it right
until the past releases us
but it takes time

The new life waits as we keep repeating
darling darling
knowing what was
teeth and claws
a lashing tail
time feral as a wild cat

Now we are one
with the high flyers
moon catchers
keeping our fantasies clean
as earth lifts its green head
and sings

We turn time inside out
and feast on overripe bliss
to the wine-dark sound of cellos
while the sturgeon moon casts its net
over an eye that is a mouth
a heart all hunger

Severed Head

The head lies midway on a slab, tubes
dangling from the neck, hooked to a machine
circulating blood, and kept alive
by Russian women scientists in cotton gowns.

It recognizes beams of light
a hand stroke of affection
and salivates when a bell is rung
convinced that food is imminent.

It holds a reservoir of feeling
that it is living and alive, still whole
that it can eat, breathe, sleep
aware of fur coat, padded paws

a good supply of teeth,
ready to attack, defend, retreat
while the head is and is
and goes nowhere.

Yet its future extends like a horizon
while we, in our fluid lives, who calculate
undiscovered spaces between stars
or reason with the heart, who savor

swallow, and feel desire like a long bone
live surrounded by a tiny nimbus of days
each day a speck, a splash
in the little hurry of our lives.

Sprouting Ornaments

she made a party
for everyone we knew
and those we never knew

drank new wine
ate fruit
out of season

and sat on the ground
the smell of damp
rising rich between her knees

and remembered
everything we'd done
or imagined

told stories of a woman
who wore her flesh
like armor

of a child who
swallowed its reflection
in the mirror

of a man
whose clothes
smelled like travel

we talked
to the sound
of baroque violins

walked into rooms
our heads
sprouting ornaments

and later
went back to doing
what she always did

In My Body of Skin

When I was a nightingale I sang
When I was a serpent I swallowed
my voice spume blown from a wave
a sound too thin for earthworms

With memories older than Prometheus
I remember the time when time was birthed
the sky appeared
sudden light wind and water
where blind valves closed
on a single grain of sand

In my body of skin of moss of clover
I touch fingers with fingers
lips with lips
the exposed tip of the heart

Seed work sun work earth work
If pansies are for thoughts
I pick them early in the morning
so they last

Lake-summer days I climb the hill
drink the sky and pose like Millet's peasant
listening to an invisible lark

With a pocketful of seeds I sit
peeling an orange under a static sun
attentive to the sound of pine cones clicking open

The child sleeps in my shadow
and walks beside me
following from birth
moving as I move
We cling together like small animals

The well is dry the cup empty
and gravity's a long way down

I - Like Wind From Our Aching
II - The Frame Of Reckoning
III - American Hunger
IV - Rose Of Whispered Rain


Winter 2001 Issue