Bowl of Oranges
The rain, it started tapping on the window near my bed. There was a loophole in my dreaming, so I got out of it. And to my surprise my eyes were wide and already open. Just my nightstand and my dresser where those nightmares had just been. So I dressed myself and left then, out into the gray streets. But everything seemed different and completely new to me. The sky, the trees, houses, buildings, even my own body. And each person I encountered, I couldn’t wait to meet. I came upon a doctor who appeared in quite poor health. I said “[I am terribly sorry but] there is nothing I can do for you that you can’t do for yourself.” He said “Oh yes you can. Just hold my hand. I think that would help.” So I sat with him a while and then I asked him how he felt. He said, “I think I’m cured. No, in fact, I’m sure. Thank you Stranger, for your therapeutic smile.” So that is how I learned the lesson that everyone is alone. And your eyes must do some raining if you are ever going to grow. But when crying don’t help and you can’t compose yourself. It is best to compose a poem, an honest verse of longing or simple song of hope. That is why I’m singing… Baby don’t worry cause now I got your back. And every time you feel like crying, I’m gonna try and make you laugh. And if I can’t, if it just hurts too bad, then we will wait for it to pass and I will keep you company through those days so long and black. And we’ll keep working on the problem we know we’ll never solve, of Love’s uneven remainders, our lives are fractions of a whole- but if the world could remain within a frame like a painting on a wall, then I think we would see the beauty, then we would stand staring in awe. At our still lives posed like a bowl of oranges, like a story told by the fault lines and the soil.
I hope I still find this beautiful when I’m 80.
“[What would I take back?] How about everything I have done to a certain extent? I disappoint myself routinely. If you are an artist and you are honest, you are never good enough.” -Jenny Holzer
I have needed both inspiration and company in the past 2 weeks so badly.
Barbara Ras You Can’t Have It All
But you can have the fig tree and its fat leaves like clown hands
gloved with green. You can have the touch of a single eleven-year-old finger
on your cheek, waking you at one a.m. to say the hamster is back.
You can have the purr of the cat and the soulful look
of the black dog, the look that says, If I could I would bite
every sorrow until it fled, and when it is August,
you can have it August and abundantly so. You can have love,
though often it will be mysterious, like the white foam
that bubbles up at the top of the bean pot over the red kidneys
until you realize foam’s twin is blood.
You can have the skin at the center between a man’s legs,
so solid, so doll-like. You can have the life of the mind,
glowing occasionally in priestly vestments, never admitting pettiness,
never stooping to bribe the sullen guard who’ll tell you
all roads narrow at the border.
You can speak a foreign language, sometimes,
and it can mean something. You can visit the marker on the grave
where your father wept openly. You can’t bring back the dead,
but you can have the words forgive and forget hold hands
as if they meant to spend a lifetime together. And you can be grateful
for makeup, the way it kisses your face, half spice, half amnesia, grateful
for Mozart, his many notes racing one another towards joy, for towels
sucking up the drops on your clean skin, and for deeper thirsts,
for passion fruit, for saliva. You can have the dream,
the dream of Egypt, the horses of Egypt and you riding in the hot sand.
You can have your grandfather sitting on the side of your bed,
at least for a while, you can have clouds and letters, the leaping
of distances, and Indian food with yellow sauce like sunrise.
You can’t count on grace to pick you out of a crowd
but here is your friend to teach you how to high jump,
how to throw yourself over the bar, backwards,
until you learn about love, about sweet surrender,
and here are periwinkles, buses that kneel, farms in the mind
as real as Africa. And when adulthood fails you,
you can still summon the memory of the black swan on the pond
of your childhood, the rye bread with peanut butter and bananas
your grandmother gave you while the rest of the family slept.
There is the voice you can still summon at will, like your mother’s,
it will always whisper, you can’t have it all,
but there is this.