Morning Song

- 1952-
For Janna

The tiny journalist
will tell us what she sees.

Document the moves, the dust,
soldiers blocking the road.

Yes, she knows how to take a picture
with her phone. Holds it high

like a balloon. Yes, she would
prefer to dance and play,

would prefer the world
to be pink. It is her job to say

what she sees, what is happening.
From her vantage point everything

is huge—but don’t look down on her.
She’s bigger than you are.

If you stomp her garden
each leaf expands its view.

Don’t hide what you do.
She sees you at 2 a.m. adjusting your

impenetrable vest.
What could she have

that you want? Her treasures,
the shiny buttons her grandmother loved.

Her cousin, her uncle.
There might have been a shirt . . .

The tiny journalist notices
action on far away roads

farther even than the next village.
She takes counsel from bugs so

puffs of dust find her first.
Could that be a friend?

They pretended not to see us.
They came at night with weapons.

What was our crime? That we liked
respect as they do? That we have pride?

She stares through a hole in the fence,
barricade of words and wire,

feels the rising fire
before anyone strikes a match.

She has a better idea.

Two Countries

Skin remembers how long the years grow
when skin is not touched, a gray tunnel
of singleness, feather lost from the tail
of a bird, swirling onto a step,
swept away by someone who never saw
it was a feather. Skin ate, walked,
slept by itself, knew how to raise a 
see-you-later hand. But skin felt
it was never seen, never known as
a land on the map, nose like a city,
hip like a city, gleaming dome of the mosque
and the hundred corridors of cinnamon and rope.

Skin had hope, that's what skin does.
Heals over the scarred place, makes a road.
Love means you breathe in two countries.
And skin remembers--silk, spiny grass,
deep in the pocket that is skin's secret own.
Even now, when skin is not alone,
it remembers being alone and thanks something larger
that there are travelers, that people go places
larger than themselves.


Even at this late date, sometimes I have to look up
the word "receive." I received his deep
and interested gaze.

A bean plant flourishes under the rain of sweet words.
Tell what you think—I'm listening.

The story ruffled its twenty leaves.


Once my teacher set me on a high stool
for laughing. She thought the eyes
of my classmates would whittle me to size.
But they said otherwise.

We'd laugh too if we knew how.

I pinned my gaze out the window
on a ripe line of sky.

That's where I was going.

The Man Whose Voice Has Been Taken From His Throat

remains all supple hands and gesture

skin of language
fusing its finest seam

in fluent light
with a raised finger

dance of lips
each sentence complete

he speaks to the shadow
of leaves

strung tissue paper
snipped into delicate flags

on which side of the conversation
did anyone begin?

wearing two skins
the brilliant question mark of Mexico
stands on its head
like an answer