9th and 2nd

            October 24, 2006

I’m alive you say
to no one in particular.

You are no one in particular.
That’s a good thing. The street is filled with souls

nested in good-looking bodies
that aren’t looking

in your direction. Someone is singing,
someone’s holding hands

with someone who is embarrassed by affection,
men and women made of light

drink in light
made of men and women.

They are alive you say,
meaning no one in particular.

One of them is singing, one is selling flowers,
one is so thin

you can almost see through her. One is looking
in your direction.

I’m alive you say, a little embarrassed
to be no one in particular, a soul

nested in a body
of men and women.

Someone is singing, someone is drinking
tea that is sweet and bitter.

It’s a good thing you say,
drinking in the light

of men and women,
men and women made of light, nested

in the sweet and bitter. A soul
is singing in your direction, so alive

you can almost see her.

More by Joy Ladin

Time Passes

Time too is afraid of passing, is riddled with holes
through which time feels itself leaking.
Time sweats in the middle of the night
when all the other dimensions are sleeping.
Time has lost every picture of itself as a child.
Now time is old, leathery and slow.
Can’t sneak up on anyone anymore,
Can’t hide in the grass, can’t run, can’t catch.
Can’t figure out how not to trample
what it means to bless.

Tarot Readings Daily

They’re reading Tarot cards right now,
in the little pink house with the sign in the yard.
Shadows spider across still-green lawn
whose fate, so far, defies the frosts.

Someone asks the right question,
draws the right card.
Many cups in the immediate future;
radiance pouring down.

They know the future,
the creatures in the yard:
night, thirst, frost.
Only the sapiens in the house believe

fire, water, air, and earth
would bother to reveal
when to fear and love.
The one who’s paying

draws another card.
Outside, in the yard,
a squirrel noses seed that fell
like radiance, from above.

 

Between Wars

You’ve lost your soul again. Go back
to the window. Note the crocus
defying expectations

in the bed your mother hunkers over,
missing you, in her fashion,
now that you’re always there.

Why don’t you wear your uniform, she asks.
Will you ever get out of bed,
running her hand through your uncombed curls,

sweating eau de toilette
that forces you both to remember
the hollows she cannot scent.

Several soldiers’ buttons
glitter in her trowel, a spectacular find
that conjures and erases

the sad, stained trench
in which their bodies vanished.
Your mother gives a cry of surprise.

The child she bore
bears you no resemblance; only
this habit of losing your soul

suggests yours is the head
she brushed, in a perfumed cloud,
straightening what wasn’t tangled,

as something rolled across the floor,
where she would never find it. 
Many surrenders later,

what glittered and rolled
perforated by equidistant holes
while you froze in her haze of fragrance

has surfaced among the spears of crocus,
as though the boys who burst their buttons
jabbing dummies with bayonets

had risen from their graves,
untangled, untarnished,
ready to forgive.