State Funeral

The East side of the Capitol
glistens in the rising sun.
Leaf blowers work hard
to turn the grounds into
an impeccable green carpet.
Solid men in black coats
do their duty, while
shiny tin soldiers march on.
Pedestrians stand and stare
or get lost in thought.
Sirens and crows
sing their mourning songs,
while buses and buses and buses
arrive. “Earned, never given”
they say. It’s cold.
The runners keep running
up and down the quiet mall
as I ride my bike
to work.

Free to grow flowers

My grandmother
had a small square garden,
surrounded by high walls,
damp. A perfect home
for slugs and moss.

During the war
they had lived on
the Bueckeberg,
seven families, their goats
and bunnies, and a secret pig.
They had grown all
they needed to eat.

As an old woman
I never saw her
grow anything useful.
She coaxed flowers
out of the black soil
and hunted slugs
with salt
and a vengeance.

Winter Garden

My plants don’t yell.
Their tantrums
are brown leaves
that quietly drop.
The sad fern stump,
that had lost all leaves
in the piercing wind,
settles into the shelter
of my tower and
tentatively unfurls
one new leaf.
The strawberry plant
on my window sill
finally un-bothered by squirrels
goes about the painstaking
work of blushing
a berry.
The basil though, is undecided
whether its season
is over.
Together we’ll wait
and see.

How it started

“You know, Eva,” she says,
“These days
we only have old people
in our church.
The young ones all
leave to find a job.
It’s a small church, but
it’s been going for generations.

One lady who was
over a hundred years old
when she died,
told me, that it started
as a bush church:
Freed slaves knew
how to build something
from bushes and built it,
a shelter to pray in,
from what they could find.
We still meet
every Sunday
on the same grounds.”

As she keeps talking
my mind wanders
to Ghana. I see
women and children
expertly smoothing soft mud
to the sides of their house,
fixing the damage
the rains have made,
leaving a trace of their
soft and callused hands.

Lunch love

The watercress
won’t hold up to
more snow,
so I sneak into
the cold morning air
and pick its most glorious
yellow and orange flowers
and some tender, unblemished
leaves.

I smile as I gently
set them in my lunch box
and take no pictures.
I’ll open this
at noon
and remember that
somebody loves me and
puts flowers
in my lunch.

Whiff

The scent of free coffee
in the brisk fall air
brings back a memory
so faint, I have to still
my mind to touch it:
Somewhere in Burkina Faso,
in a hotel,
that is the basic idea
of a hotel, but not more:
rooms, with beds,
my mother knocks at my door
early in the morning.
As I open, she hands
a hot tin cup of Nescafe
through the cracked door.
“Guten Morgen, mein Schatz!”
and turns quickly,
so we don’t have to be social
before the first cup of coffee.

Rice and Bean

Every night
my son wants to play
Rice and Bean.
He is the bean,
I’m the rice
and the blanket
is the tortilla.
“This way! That way! This way!
No that!”, he barks
as we roll ourselves up.
And no matter which way
I go, he gleefully yells:
“Wrong way!” and giggles.
We feel each other’s weight
and as we roll,
this way and that,
nothing can come
in the tight space
between us.

Falling out of time

Oh the joy
of falling out
of the marching beat
of time.

Sitting on the remains
of a wooden bench
eaten (the bench, not me)
by the toll of the seasons.
Just being,
as golden leaves
fall slowly, glowing
against the blue sky,
an ant, confidently walks
up a tree trunk.
The kids returned
to their natural state,
forest animals,
digging in the mud
forgetting that it is too cold
to step into the stream,
to build a necessary island.

I won’t disturb them,
won’t wake us all up
and wont
give them a five minute warning.
I will sit with the leaves,
the ant, and the sky
some more.