Navigating Ink Stains

(a poem in two tongues)

dawn scatters across the room
to find me still tangled in strands of
ink – I struggle, half-heartedly,
to free my fingers from a dream
where you reach for me
pleading that I dive back among
the rivers of your mane,
sable and silky, until the daze of
your tenor finally breaks at my feet
against cold ceramic floor

pero la idea de encontrar
con mis labios, lengua, dedos, piel y pestañas
el arroyo de tu carne
en el mapa de tu cuerpo
que te llevara al gozo completo –
físico, emocional, espiritual —
no es lo que me pega al salir
de los sueños de nadar
en ríos de tu cabello
de tinta negra

No, dawn scatters flesh’s desire
in shards over the floor
where they stick in my feet,
while before my ink-blurred eyes hang
motes of shared truth,
growth, insight, unexpected tenderness,
laughter, song, books,
flawed but growing humanity —
meanwhile, the dream that I must
walk away from clings to me

like letters written indelibly on paths
that I tread every day
pretending I don’t feel
your voice whispering
against the nape of my neck.

~LD

Travelling

High above the center
of the labyrinth,
where I sit sipping
the last of my wine,
the Host of moon
is scraped flat to the east,
but still generously lights
the thread across my palm
showing red dye
awakened by sweat and
smeared like blood
on the day Theseus
fought the minotaur —
now a mere skittering
of enormous, whistling bones
leaning on shadowed stones;

Tugging the thread,
I know that Ariadne’s nap
long since ended curled
in Dionysus’ arms; this thread
leads out to the rocker rails
at my grandmother’s feet, now,
and I pull myself along
right and left and left again
until after many long turns
I’m seated again at her knee
As when I was small;
Today my arm is long
and reaches round her waist,
still strong, and warm
Though her eyes fade and withdraw
From a few feet away,
this close, touching,
she hears every word
and her eyes widen and sparkle
recognizably the woman
I remember,
hanging on to her own thread,
twisting knots of memory
between weary fingers.

~LD

Anhelo

The sun winks
As he turns toward night,
and blush washes over
the breast of thin clouds

Thick velvet mat of treetops
are shot with shining
green threads woven
through by busy lighting bugs

I breathe air
thick with mist
of time, and think
I hear my name

I roll the base
of my glass in its
puddle of sweat
on the table

the raspy, low voice
of flayed earth
calls me across the miles

the sound falling like
grains of sand down through
leaves fish-scaled up to the sky’s
watery surface

the outside edge of my soul
misses the open arms
of desert galaxies
that echo with song

and winds adornment
around the waist
of a yearning not numbed
by spirits.

~LD

Thefts

I’ve been careless
with the ink
from my pen,
going to bed
before the ink
is fully dry
on a leaf.

Words left to
steep overnight
are marred in
morning light;

Some little squirrel
has wandered
through my
heart
and stolen
my last stanzas,

every single one

I hope you’ll understand… for the Senior class of 2015

Dear You,

You know who you are.

You came into my room last August and I was still sweeping up the dusty pinfeathers left behind by those who came before you.

Today, I felt like I was at the amanecida (all nighter) last night / this morning, though there is exactly zero chance that would ever happen. Nevertheless, I’ve been running on fumes roughly since you started presentations in mid-May. I knew this was coming. I’ve done it every year for so many years that I should be used to the end by now. So I watched you drag in today, pale and barely showered, your eyelids drooping through what would otherwise be a pretty engaging day of stories. You looked like I have felt these last three weeks. Drained, exhausted, hungover in the traditional sense, and in some cases in the more mundane lack of sleep. I watched you slog in, and tried my best to take it in stride, as I often do. Like you, I am utterly and completely exhausted.

But today was not just any old day. Today was the last day. Yes, I’ll see you next week in our final official meeting, but by then the routines will have changed already and the dynamic won’t be the same. You will still be you, and I will still be me, but there will be this underlying change in the way you see yourself, the way you see me. That’s what’s supposed to happen.

You were a little offended, I could tell, that I’m not “in love” with you as I was with the last, and I didn’t explain well, I know. English has its limitations. So let me try it this way: sí te quiero, pero más, te amo. It’s that kind of emotional subtlety that my native language doesn’t hold – alas.

I don’t really know what you see when you look at me, though you have tried to tell me: patient, strong, intelligent, non-judgmental, comfortable, happy (in spite of ten thousand things), a mentor, a friend, a listener, benevolently powerful, genuine, at ease, authentic, passionate, part of you. I guess we can never really see ourselves through another’s eyes because I see very little of what is on your list (ok, intelligent and patient, maybe) in myself. Still, it was nice of you to say so, and I will try my best to notice and at the very least maintain those qualities. Maybe I can even add a few others in the years to come.

And I have lived so much with you in this short time: university essays, recommendation letters, hanging out with Beowulf and Chaucer and Hamlet and the Romantics, new loves, old loves, unrequited loves, decisions about yourself, your beliefs, your direction, fights with authority in many shapes, recognition of grave hurts you didn’t let yourself feel before, losses of friends and loved ones – to age, ideological and personal changes, even death. I won’t take credit for the fine things you have discovered and take with you because I can’t; I’m glad, though, to have been a part of this time in your life and I’m more than a little sad to see you go. It has been a powerful, terrifying, exciting, horrible, wonderful year. I am hard-pressed to let you go, to say goodbye.

But go we must. We will meet again. Or we will not. Either way, the energy of this day could only be held today. A little firefly (luciernaga) in my hand that I must now release to the wilds, lest it lose its light forever. You will do well and you will be happy and successful if you decide to be – even if none of those things turns out to fit into the picture you have painted for yourself today.

Whatever else may happen between now and the next time we meet, know that I hold the light and the hope you brought to me this year fondly in my heart. I will remember (even if I decide to do nothing about it) that it’s not too late, that lessons can still be learned – and taught. So take wing my little lightning bug and show the way through the forests of night. I’ll be watching for you.

With great love and affection – Ms. H

Shall I Tell You? (on Ravel’s Tzigane)

Melancholy
is a desert
dust storm
And then,
and then

the salted scent
of wet caliche blows
down the city street,

and children
step out in rainbow shoes
running to catch rain
on open hands
on arcing tongues
faces, spinning, lifted in glee

but the dissonances,
too much:
too much water,
too much lightning,
flowering thunder,

children fleeing
squealing home,
to tell the adventure
dripping
all over again.
beneath raven braided
regaños*.

~LD

*regaño = a scolding

My thanks to my musician friend who pointed out the  possible poetry in a stray comment on Ravel. ~LD

Open Highway Summer

sticky asphalt steams
against the blue scent of velvet sky —
decadent rich —
my eyes reach out to stroke
the fine curve of sunshine mountains

We roll, top down,
along the glistening ribbon
of black with white
rhythms keep time with a dream
and city lights blink
in a distant valley
to the back beat,
“you got a fast car…”

the ebony wake of your
hair disappears in silvery waves
into the highway
sunset

~LD

In Bloom, Romas

the bitter, poisonous scent
of his bristles
sticks to her hands
vapors up from
her clothes
and burns away
duality.
There is only this
Flesh that grows flesh
full, warm, red, round
palm-sized sweetness
awaiting
consummation

~LD

Sowing in the City —

you can tell I took this, right?

you can tell I took this, right?

Fields of concrete and asphalt
Stretch into the horizon
Glistening silvery blue
Under flickering rays

Today, I think I’ll be a farmer,
walking my rows of pots
three tomato plants
crowded together
bravely blooming

one tiny green
finger tip
plump and round
disintegrates smog
and traffic

turns concrete and asphalt
into reaches of heaven
the warm, sweet, sour flesh
of Roma summer.

~LD

NaPoWriMo ended without me. Alas. Still, I’m out here. Doing the thing. Waiting for tomatoes.