The Day After the Solstice

Rain falls through a more frigid drizzle,
rippling the pond that had just the day before
been frozen over — the temperature skates
a few degrees upward and the world is altered.

Without the ice, a pair of buffleheads return
to paddle about the dark waters,
interrupting their loafing with the occasional dunk
below to feed, before popping back into view
as if nothing has happened.
For them this is not a season of turning inwards,
of slumber under heavy blankets. As for me,
I had struggled to rouse myself out into these bone-chill winds,
but there were errands to run. Surrendering
like the heart that is slow to wake from its tribulations,
but wakes all the same,
I lean into the day of a brief and bashful sun.

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The Day After the Solstice

Between Two Seas

[The following poem is based on a story I came across many moons ago in a newspaper article from July of 1962: an open water swimmer twenty-four-year-old Mary Margaret Newell from Detroit became the first woman to successfully swim the length of the Bosphorus Strait, completing the 19 miles in 4 hours, 53 minutes and 11 seconds.]

Her parents called her our little fish,
but she knew, seasick and thrashed,
she was human, swimming out there
in the exacting open waters,
in the congested wake of cargo ships and tankers,
of small wooden crafts with their outboards sputtering
back to the docks of Istanbul,

out there
where the Black Sea had been left behind and
the Sea of Marmara still only a possibility,
where she cut through oil skims
and surface dregs with its taste of pollutants,
where the strident crosscurrents
punished her, her muscles like hot metal
being hammered, her body like pebbles in salt water
that seemingly sought to dissolve
the glue that held them together,

out there
becoming
in the hand over hand,
in the kick,
in the breath,
the persistent refusal.

Between Two Seas

The Day After the Solstice

Rain falls through a more frigid drizzle,
rippling the pond that had just the day before
been frozen over — the temperature skates
a few degrees upward and the world is altered.
Without the ice, a pair of buffleheads return
to paddle about the dark waters,
interrupting their loafing with the occasional dunk
below to feed, before popping back into view
as if nothing has happened.
For them this is not a season of turning inwards,
of slumber under heavy blankets. As for me,
I had struggled to rouse myself out into these bone-chill winds,
but there were errands to run. Surrendering
like the heart that is slow to wake from its tribulations,
but wakes all the same,
I lean into the day of a brief and bashful sun.

The Day After the Solstice

Father’s Tattoo

he never drew attention to the fading lines
bruised blue and black on the forearm
vague insignia from the days when stationed in Japan

except for a day a few years before he passed
when he pointed to it and told me
don’t you get one of these

and i responded as a child will do with something like
okay

this is how we become tethered to another:
the uncomplicated ask
followed by the simple promise
that is held for the whole scope of a life

Father’s Tattoo

Fault

a neighbor in the early evening grows tired
of the hollering on the other side of the wall
and considers calling the police
except he doesn’t
having remembered
other raised voices

a neighbor in the late evening awakes in his chair
(the light of a nearby lamp
vanquishes the dream
although the heart still thumps)
and leans forward
but if they were home
he does not hear them

Fault