Published on Academy of American Poets (https://poets.org)


Rituals, Yours—and Mine

          I.
living by your words
as if I haven’t enough of my own
ever
to make them stretch
that long distance
from home to here
from then to now.

and all the new words
i’ve ever read learned
or shelved so neatly
can’t explain myself to me
like yours always do.

sometimes that one gesture
of your chin and lips
my memory of
that sideways movement of your eyes
are the only words
from that language
i can manage
put things in their place

          II.
walked in on you today
closed the screened door quietly
so you wouldn’t notice
just yet
stood watched you
mumbling shuffling about the kitchen
your long yellow gray braid
hanging heavy down your back 

wanted to see you turn
just that way
hear that familiar exclamation
you snapping the dishtowel
landing it just short of me
shame on me for surprising you

you walk toward me laughing
don’t change anything i chant silently
wiping your hands on your faded print apron
you lay them gently still damp cool
one on each side of my face
for that long long second

When’d you come? Sit down, I’m making breakfast.
i watch the wrinkled loose flesh jiggle on your arms
as you reach to wind and pin your braid
hurry to find your teeth behind the water pail
pull up your peanut butter stockings
pull down your flowered house dress
and wet your fingers
to smooth the hair back behind your ears

          III.
smoothing away time with the fluid line
of your memory
i am in place at your table
in the morning damp of your still dark kitchen
i wait for you to come

stepping through the curtained doorway
you enter intent on this day
restart the fire
fill place the kettle
pull open the kitchen door
inviting daylight to come
welcoming it into your house—
bringing it into mine.

Credit


From Trailing You (Greenfield Review Press, 1994). Copyright © 1994 by Kimberly Blaeser. Used with the permission of the author.

Author


Kimberly Blaeser

Kimberly Blaeser is the author of Apprenticed to Justice (Salt Publishing, 2007). She teaches at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee.

Date Published: 2018-04-05

Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/rituals-yours-and-mine