Big Sur, California, May 2009
Phosphorescent green flickers against wet dark,
            fire in another tongue
Memorials of trees, stripped bare, black as
mummies, stand witness
Leaf-laden alders, parchment ghosts, testify
in blanched whispers
Our dead among us, Presences,
while baby fists of fern
curled in russet crevasses
I move a vase from mantel to table; its cool weight
clings to my hands. I practice seeing things in unfamiliar
places—or nowhere at all. Is this one you’ll
take away?
I empty cupboards, six cans of chicken broth. Should probably
keep these; might cook myself the soups you always made to fill
my thermos. No? Well, perhaps I can find a use
for broth.
I stand unmoving, trapped among your boxes, imagine you
gone, imagine I’m ready, impatient even, for you to move along
Your key in the lock!—I can’t move quickly enough
we collide       I hold you silently. Will soon be
soon enough?
You move over in your narrow bed, inviting me to hear your day
I sit (the days to hear are numbered)
I am moved by your palm cradling your cheek against the pillow,
your other hand dimpling the soft inner flesh of your upper arm
where I have cradled and wish to cradle now
my cheek
In another geography, neither here nor there,
rage and sorrow move in their ancient rites,
bucking, buckling, flailing, thrashing, fainting
the wails forget who wails them
or why
nothing is connected anymore
who matters most is leaving me
No move of mine can save us from
this move of yours—set in motion
too long ago
we are mad
tempting love in this windwhipped place
bedding on cold drifted leaves
                        in our daylight separate lives
                        we will walk endangered by our
                        memory of these gauzy walls
                        fogsoaked, rent on lashing branches
                        twisting tendrils gathering debris
                        limp in the afterwind
you are wise
forbearing love except in stonebrave houses
rosed in firelight and polished wood
                        in your daylight separate life
                        you and some love will sit
                        by humming looms, gathering fleece
                        fullsoft and fragrant in your
                        singing hands
but love me once
before you grow sane—quickly
not to feel the ocean chill
                        in our daylight separate lives
                        is time enough to deny
                        that I offered you a drink of
                        white moonfire, that I said the loon
                        was laughing at your upholstered dreams


About the poet:
Catharine Lucas’s creative writing appears or is forthcoming in Willow Review, Zone 3, WomenArts Quarterly, The Alembic, North Dakota Quarterly, Chaparral Magazine, and others. Ms. Lucas is a graduate of Bryn Mawr College; a professor of English, emeritus, at SFSU; and a National Writing Project Teacher Consultant. Her academic writing is published under the name Catharine Lucas Keech.
As a practicing Buddhist with a fairly colorful personal history, she offers spiritual support to women facing illness or loss, and to those seeking courage to embrace new turnings.