To Scatter at Descanso Gardens
Cuando yo me muera,
enterradme si queris en una veleta.
Cuando yo me muera! ~ Lorca
When evening arrives
as a stranger in velvet slippers
it has no shadow
but you panic
at your mirrored reflection
in the dark.
It feels like death—
a spider waiting
and when you leave
it will weave you
But you want to remember all
you’ve ever been
a Buddha beneath
the Bodhi tree.
Watch your lives
like a great forest
then the calm
the gardener says
he’ll find you again,
when he’s troweled
the upper fields
and dug the weeds away.
He’ll talk to you
so you’ll never be lonely.
He knows how deer leap
in the closed hours
to graze on the sweetest grasses.
How the ghosts
of the scrub oaks wander.
There are nights
when the moon slips off
its white coat
and every wild thing
stirs in its cauldron.
When the wind rattles
you’ll be buried like Lorca
in a weather vane—
the one that stands
near the fiery maple
how it turns and turns
toward the stars.
Winning Finalist : Terrain.org 9th Annual Contest in Poetry
Only the Moon Holds Her Exits and Entrances, Muzot 1921
I don’t believe what my body says –
the whole of me too tall for most men,
my voice a wounded animal. A body that holds
forks and knives
and pokers for the fire – blue coals
alive as dusk.
I don’t believe its cries and moans
and cracks of thunder hushed between the lips.
If an orchid transforms from hard bulb
by the grace of rain and light, let it find
flowering in the moist ground
of your silence. Let it bloom not
from photosynthesis but desire.
And let this body enter holding love
under the tongue –
its sublingual light. A faint disc against
the shift to rose, dissolving and lighting
Let the body be
the beautiful, dark butterfly
coming significantly and expressly
toward you from the dimly shining windows
in a ballroom of guests. Let me slip between
the cracks of your closed door
to be touched
the way the butterfly holds
landing soft as sorrow
Italicized portions are Rilke’s
Published in Another Chicago Magazine
Frida’s Glove, Chateau Muzot, Summer 1922
The poet ... Rilke enjoyed donning his maid’s suede gloves and dusting ...
furniture in the wee hours of the morning like caressing the body of a lover.
"After this," he said, "there’s nothing that you do not know!"
~ The Poetics of Space, Bachelard
There was a candle burning inside my brow. I could not pinch its
flame so I crept out of the fevered bed to the forest of our floors and
their cool against my feet. Green and green again all emerald like
buttons sewn on our felt tree. It was just a hand at first, moving up
the velvet drapes, independent as a whistle from nowhere and then
the thin figure of a man emerged slightly from this stage, the fingers
and thumb gliding up the drape’s edge. Something at the wrist. A
thickness between the fingers, like a new skin, a fourchette with a
slight webbing that layered the delicate hand. My suede glove touched
an edge then moved slowly up the plaited cord, then down. A finger
drew the line of its own profile from forehead to neck and I felt as if
he traced my own throat, down to the clavicle then up again to the
edge of my left lobe. Shivering, the moon shook too, so sewn to the
poet’s mind, that the fabric of our scene tilted, then buried itself in
the night’s seam.
* Frida Baumgartner was Rilke’s housekeeper from 1921 until
1926 just before he died.
Published in Plume
Photo credit by Lia Brooks, 2017