Just now a kind of golden dust settles over everything

Dear Readers, Friends,

Thanks again for joining me during another National Poetry Month. I hope that some of these words I’ve shared have helped bring a moment of beauty, solace, reflection, or hope into your lives and that the year ahead is brighter than this surreal stretch of time swirling around us. Here’s one final poem to savor by the great Linda Pastan (1932-).

Special thanks again to one of my dearest friends and kindred spirits, Kristina Closs, who brought a whole other layer to the poems this month with her beautiful and thoughtful illustrations. If you enjoyed her work, please visit her Etsy store where you can purchase prints–or contact her for custom commissions, which she will gladly work on with you.

Take good care, everyone.

Natalie

sugar bowl surrounded by gold leaves
Art by Kristina Closs

“What We Fear Most” 

for R after the accident

We have been saved one more time
from what we fear most.
Let us remember this moment.
Let us forget it if we can.
Just now a kind of golden dust
settles over everything:
the tree outside the window,
though it is not fall;
the cracked sugar bowl,
so carefully mended once.
This light is not redemption,
just the silt of afternoon sun
on an ordinary day,
unlike any other.

now there is brown earth under my fingernails

As we wrap up National Poetry Month, here is my second to last (one more tomorrow!) poem, a sensual celebration of spring, of our love of the earth and for each another by the one and only Audre Lorde (1934-1992).

illustration of a tomato
Art by Kristina Closs

“Sowing”

It is the sink of the afternoon
the children asleep or weary.
I have finished planting the tomatoes
in this brief sun after four days of rain
now there is brown earth under my fingernails
And sun full on my skin
with my head thick as honey
the tips of my fingers are stinging
from the rich earth
but more so from the lack of your body
I have been to this place before
where blood seething commanded
my fingers fresh from the earth
dream of plowing a furrow
whose name should be you.

from The Selected Works of Audre Lorde

it’s not my mom’s English that is broken

illustration of a crash register with orange flowers blooming from it
Art by Kristina Closs

With its unflinching portrait of how broken this country can be, today’s narrative poem by the Vietnamese-American poet Bao Phi rocks me at my core and reminds me of so many painful moments that I–and so many of us–have witnessed as children of immigrants.

“Frank’s Nursery and Crafts”

The lines are long and my mom insists
that the final amount is wrong.
The cashier looks at the receipt and insists that it’s right.
My mom purses her lips, looks worried,
says, it’s not right.
The line of white people behind us groans.
My mom won’t look back at them.
We both know what they’re thinking
Small woman with no knowledge of the way
things are in America.
Though year after year
she makes flowers bloom in the hood,
petals in the face of this land
that doesn’t want her here.
Finally a manager comes, checks, and tells the cashier
she rang up twenty-two plants instead of just two,
overcharging us by forty dollars.
My mother holds my hand
leads me away
without looking back
at the line of white people
who overhear
and gasp,
their sympathy won.
If only I was old enough
to tell them to keep it;
it’s not my mom’s English
that is broken.

from Thousand Star Hotel