A Poem to my new blog By Peter L., Stamford, CT
Auntie Camille thinks I don’t remember
malevolent plumes of smoke
reflecting against the oily linoleum tiles
every Monday night after Wheel of Fortune
Her shaking, almost paralyzed fingers
scrape against the windowsill and
drag the chipping paint away
as she struggles to grip the lock and
release the meandering smoke
into the buzzing Minneapolis streets
Little bits of mended porcelain fraught with gold fillings
clatter together as she stutters amidst
gulps and pants
“Go. Homework, Natalie”
Two years later and she stumbles into
my room, 145B
(tenacious perfume clings to her curved hips)
She is useless like the receding lifeline engraved in my left
palm, ambling smoke embedded in her tarnished, silvery hair
Cheekbones remind me of the Montclair cliffs we visited
Glistening tears dangle off of her cheeks
rainwater coursing through the rocky gaps
Nodding her head at the doctors,
slipping the IV in and I barely feel a thing
My eyes surge, greeted by foreign kaleidoscopes
Maybe I’ll become a French painter
capturing newlyweds as they share laughter-sprinkled crepes
at the Café Lune Avon in front of the Eiffel Tower
Maybe I’ll become a trapeze artist
and contort my body like the wisps of smoke that
ramble out of Auntie Camille’s bathroom window
1) Trees by Joyce Kilmer.
I THINK that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.
A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the sweet earth’s flowing breast;
A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;
A tree that may in summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;
Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.
Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.
2) Wild Geese by Mary Oliver
You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.
How do we know then the right time to talk is?
How do we know when we should be silent?
If I write it on my blog, who does it belong to? Why write? For whom? What is the purpose?
I have a desire to tell a long story. Where will this story go and who should read it?
Is it better as a blog, or should I save it for a book? It is very personal. But I think in sharing, it will heal many things.
Many stories to tell. I no longer want to carry them with me.
Although my professional path may seem roundabout to many, I see it, looking back, as continually growing and developing on a direct path from a liberal arts degree in biology to an environmental education peace corps service in Mauritania to a year in Benin to a master’s in environmental science at a forestry school, to my recently completed PhD in environmental and civil engineering in Switzerland. Now I am looking at how to come back to some of my holistic questions from before, I really like my life in Switzerland, I would like to move away from West Africa, I find myself working on waterborne diseases, and I feel a bit lost about the best next step. The hurdle immediately before me is publishing my PhD work while securing funding for my postdoc and starting to think about what comes next. It never seems as easy as it should!