poems by Rena J. Mosteirin

Blog Archive

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Ring/ Wing/ Plastic Baby Jesus


Lost my engagement ring
the ring you made/ from a slender strip of silver
with your beautiful hands, hands that can do anything,
you cut and joined and engraved

the ring you made/ from a slender strip of silver.
The tumor was never a wing.
You cut and joined and engraved.
The tumor was never a ring.

The tumor was never a wing.
If you bit into it, you would not have found a plastic baby Jesus.
The tumor was never a ring,
and it was never a knot.

If you bit into it, you would not have found a plastic baby Jesus.
It could not have kept a boat/ secured to any dock
and it was never a knot
though it might have floated in water.

It could not have kept a boat/ secured to any dock.
I didn't ask to take it home,
though it might have floated in water.
Can you imagine me in the bath with my tumor?

I didn't ask to take it home,
to pretend it was a yellow rubber duck or some sort of toy boat.
Can you imagine me in the bath with my tumor?
Touch the place where my tumor was,

(in that place it is always night.)

Once I was teaching an evening yoga class
at a community center, worried
my students would see the scar on my back.
I put on a serious flute music CD
and the two birds perched just outside the open door stayed,
whistling and chirping in harmony:
Ring! Wing! Plastic baby Jesus!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Praise the Quiet Joy of Falling


1
I am exactly who you think I am.
Not because of what I've told you about myself.
I'm talking about the things you just know.
In some way
everyone already knows
what everyone else is thinking.
So what's the point of paranoia?

Back behind your own birth
when you were both/ the egg and the sperm
and you didn't need words
when you begun/ on a cellular level
to be you.

The sun rises/ because you are watching. Praise
the paranoia. Then shut your eyes to it.

I would like to fall asleep with my head in your lap
while you stroke my forehead
and quietly say my name.

2
I name my snow angels
the truth is in there somewhere
but they don’t talk about it
and they don’t last long.

Shh the city is full of secret messages (listen)—
Shhh everyone around you will forget you almost as soon as they see you—
Shh everybody is pretending—
Shhh everybody is performing—

If you were standing on that star
with your telescope pointed straight at me
you would see a dinosaur

not my lovingly-named and stretched snow-angels,
because we have been pre-forgotten
(history doesn’t have me
and the future already forgot)
let’s not talk about it.

3
I would like to fall asleep in a hole in the sky
on a cloudy day/ backed by sun/

I would like to be heaven on a bus
clear through a smudgy window.

I would like to fall asleep in a red barn in a Vermont snowscape.

I would like to fall asleep a fool
on a bus/ with a piece of paper and a black pen.

A single, huge truck cut
through the field beside the highway.

The truck is so still
and the headlights have been out forever.

I would like to fall asleep
in that truck.


Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Every Good Shrine Has A Secret

1
Everyone forgets everyone, always.
Everything is forgotten.

This car full of food is heading home. Tomorrow it will be gone.
Yet nothing is written.

The menu may still change
and the next day each guest

will tell you that we served something different.
Olives, Brazil nuts, blueberries, salsa and chips, slaw,

clam chowder and conversation about music, about religion
about potato croquettes with lobster. I like that word: shrine.

What would I do at a shrine? Bring oranges.
Can I bring a fresh salsa instead? And what would I build my shrine to?

Pear tarts? Strawberry tarts? My husband?
But he’s still alive.

So? Ok, I don’t know the rules. Let’s drink champagne cocktails
with fresh squeezed orange juice: a toast to her new Greencard!

With elderflower liquor: a toast to his new job offer! Tenure-track! Cheers
and rosewater and a shrimp tail tucked in the pocket of my apron, and

a blueberry dropped in a glass of champagne.


2
“I’ll tell you at your wedding,” she says
even though you are a child and she’s already having trouble walking.

The very idea that you will get married
shapes the jar

in which she will store her strength
and mete it out

in small, daily trades
measured by grace in pain and with diligence.

Praying the rosary for hours; in half-praise and half-repentance,
she smiles out the secret with her fingers,

she’s never spoke openly about sex before
but you suspect that’s some part of it,

otherwise why would marriage be a factor in
the equation? And what mystical arithmetic is this?

There are plants that when grown together
will keep the evil spirits away. There are recipes

for everything. She’ll tell you the night before your wedding—
don’t you see? She’s also giving you the key to her long life,

the trick to perseverance:
a secret to live long for. So that you will tell your grandchildren,

she’ll give you the words
you will whisper at her shrine.