I am stitching a darkness you’ll need to unravel

If you encountered Maggie Smith’s poem “Good Bones” as it traveled around the internet a few years ago, then you already know how beautifully she captures the concerns of a mother (or any parent-figure) for their children–or the anxiety all of us might share for future generations.

maggie-smith-hires-cropped

“At Your Age, I wore a Darkness”

several sizes too big. It hung on me
like a mother’s dress. Even now,

as we speak, I am stitching
a darkness you’ll need to unravel,

unraveling another you’ll need
to restitch. What can I give you

that you can keep? Once you asked,
Does the sky stop? It doesn’t stop,

it just stops being one thing
and starts being another.

Sometimes we hold hands
and tip our heads way back

so the blue fills our whole field
of vision, so we feel like

we’re in it. We don’t stop,
we just stop being what we are

and start being what?
Where? What can I give you

to carry there? These shadows
of leaves—the lace in solace?

This soft, hand-me-down
darkness? What can I give you

that will be of use in your next life,
the one you will live without me?

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Let it be like wild flowers

Tonight, three from Yehuda Amichai, (1924-2000) who is considered one of the finest modern Israeli poets.

“For My Mother”

I

Like an old windmill,
Two hands always raised to scream up to the sky
And two descending to make sandwiches.

Her eyes clean and polished
As on the eve of Passover.

At night, she puts all the letters
And the photographs next to each other,

To measure with them
The length of God’s finger.

2

I want to walk in the deep
Wadis between her sobs.

I want to stand in the hot wind
Of her silence.

I want to learn
On the rough trunks of her pain.

3.

She puts me,
As Hagar put Ishmael,
Under one of the bushes.

So she won’t see me die in the war,
Under one of the bushes
In one of the wars.
_____________________________________

“Wild Peace”

Not the one of an armistice,
Not even the one of the vision of wolf and lamb,
But,
As in your heart after an excitement:
To talk only of a great weariness.
I know that I know how to kill,
I am grown up.
And my son plays with a toy gun that knows
How to open and close its eyes and say “Mama.”
Peace
Without the commotion of turning swords into plowshares, without
words, without
The sound of heavy seals; let it be light
On top, like lazy white foam.
Rest for the wounds,
Not even healing.
(And the scream of orphans is passed on from one generation
To another, as in a relay race: the baton won’t fall.)

Let it be
Like wild flowers,
Suddenly, an imperative of the field:
Wild peace.
_______________________________________

“Again, A Love is Finished”

Again a love is finished, like a successful citrus season,
Or a digging season ofarr archaeologists, bringing up from the depths
Exciting things that wanted to be forgotten.

Again a love is finished. As after the demolition
Of a big house, and the cleaning of the debris, you’re standing
In the square empty lot, saying: How small
The space where the house stood
With all its stories and people.

And from the distant valley, you hear
A lonely tractor working,
And from the distant past, the clatter
Of a fork on a porcelain plate, mixing
And whipping up yoke with sugar for the child,
Clatter, clatter.