Objects of my Affections

Objects, Memory and Meaning

Tag: love

Flight

Flight

A robin slammed
into my window last night
with a sound like a shot.
The room shook
as she flew full throttle
into a mirage of clear blue freedom,
only to meet a blow equal to her power.
I ran to find her on her back,
wildly thrashing, her tail
a flashing gray fan
against red bricks,
her legs bent awry,
before she stilled.
My heart broke a little,
caught again
between love and helplessness.

I thought of my mother
watching me soar into first marriage,
knowing  the danger.
At the wedding, her face betrayed
her fear it was a funeral.
Nonetheless, unasked she’d cooked for days,
platters of her flaky piroshki,
thin buckwheat blini
with sour cream and caviar.

At times our loved ones fly,
fueled by fervor
and innocence, towards a phantom.
Do we hold our hearts open?
Do we stand at our stoves for them?
Can we love ourselves, give thanks,
when we stand again on wobbly legs,
shake our wings, head for
another piece of sky?
Do we pray for the robin
who collided too soon, too hard,
who lay cold and alone,
carried off by a predator in the night?

– Anna Belle Kaufman

Image

Detail from Florilgeum by John Marshall, c. 1650

 Danny Boy

Image

 Danny Boy

I dreamed my dead friend, Dan,
came back. All six feet of him,
dressed as usual, minus shoes.

I offered him some brown size twelves
my uncle left behind.
But he shook his head,

gave me a hug, so strong, so real,
I felt the buttons on his shirt,
the wale of his beige cords.

In stocking feet, we walked the streets
slowly, picking our way
across asphalt knobs and sharp stones.

Dan, you’re dead, a ghost, I said.
and placed my palm against his cheek
to feel slight stubble there.

What have you been doing
all this time? Your wife’s
remarried, your children are grown.

He grinned, It’s classified.
Put a finger to his lips, then gently
blessed my head.

I’ve been watching all of you,
as you watch TV, finding
things to make me smile or laugh.

When I awoke, I understood:
the dead, no longer in our shoes,
take our lives lightly.

Softly as moths,  
they slip among us,
drawn by our joy,
suffusing us with their love.            

                                               – Anna Belle Kaufman