Okay, let’s get some things straight once and for all. I don’t live in a shoe. It’s a work of modern architecture, a quite normal if unusual looking home,, and if you imagine it shoe-like, so be it. I’m not old, I’m 45, but with eight kids I am prematurely gray. It wasn’t broth I fed them that night, it was a rich Pottage. And no there wasn’t any bread, six of them are celiac intolerant. And I’d hardly call a pat on the back reminding them of bedtime a serious whipping.
They sit on the barren tree staring at what we cannot fathom. They are strangely beautiful creatures and utterly odd looking as well. Their black plumage is entrancing, more so when put on display by extended wings. But inevitably it is their head and neck that draws the eye. Gray against the ebony of their bodies, and wrinkled as if wearing a chain mail balaclava. We can only imagine how strange we must look to them. And with the mutual nod we retreat to the house as they lift into the waiting sky.
From the moment it began, we knew, it was
obvious that peace and freedom were under assault,
Russia had thrown societal norms to the wind.
Under gunmetal gray skies they attacked by air,
killing women, children, destroying hospitals, homes
raining hell on the innocents with nowhere to turn.
All we could do was watch, pray and offer paltry aid
in the hope that this proud nation could hold out,
negotiate some peace, maintain their freedom,
emerge like the phoenix slowly rising from the rubble.
The clouds build slowly, turning the sky from blue to ever darkening shades of gray. He hopes it will rain, rain heavily, as the ground is parched, the wetland a bog, and the birds have moved on in search of water. He watches the build up, the clouds accreting, and he waits for the first drop of water. The clouds begin to dissipate, the sun peeks through widening gaps, and the sky is soon blue again. And in the distance he thinks he hears a voice whispering “you know mother nature is a cranky old broad, right?”
The clouds this evening
are the deep gray that so long
to be black, but the retreated
sun just below the horizon
lingers long enough to deny them.
The space, shrinking, between
the clouds, is the gray of promise
that the night will soon deny,
and the birds who take over
the preserve, chant their vespers,
each in his or her own language,
uncommon tongues singing
their hymn punctured, punctuated
by the flapping of wings, as the night
encloses us in a cocoon that will
carry us into the coming morning.
I want the sky to be that certain crimson
tinged with burnt sienna and cinnabar,
but today winter is holding sway
and the sun sneaks off behind
the gray wall from which it only peeked,
and left the day one of grayscale
where intensity replaced beauty
and even the cardinal opted to stay
high in the spruce, offering
only an occasional glint of red.
We come to expect this, it is a season
of colorlessness, and the only question
is whether we can hold out
until spring returns the full pallette
and nature takes up brush again.
You have no sense
of being on an island
standing on the corner
waiting for the light,
caught cursing those
who block the box.
It is odd having to look up
to see the sky, gray
on this day, but here
the horizon is only chrome,
glass and stone.
It is only from
the 45th floor
that the river
brings you to ground.
This morning, as I do most mornings,
I took my paints and painted the sky blue.
Today for some reason, I opted for Cornflower,
it seemed to fit my mood and the neighbors cat,
after considering it for a few moments
seemed to agree with my choice, though she
suggested tomorrow might be better served
by either Carolina Blue or Iceberg, but
if I don’t sleep all that well tonight,
I suspect I will just go with Cool Gray.
The Cardinal says anything darker than
Dark Pastel blues is unacceptable since
it takes away from his beauty, but that vanity
aside, it takes too long to sweep aside
the clouds to do the second coat
the brighter blues all demand.
THIS IS HOW WE MOURN
This is how we mourn:
we don’t berate the clouds for gathering,
nor begrudge the rain’s ultimate descent.
Our tears fall to the earth as well,
and there are moments when we need the gray,
moments when the sun would
be an unwelcomed interloper.
This is how we mourn:
we wipe the walls clean of history,
we whitewash them for they, too,
must be a tachrichim* and when done
we add the names, each lettered carefully,
this a plaster scroll
of those we dare not forget
requiring the perfection
they were denied.
This is how we mourn:
by walking out into the sunfilled sky,
having given them the grave
once denied them
freshly dug into
our souls and memory.
*tachrichim is the traditional white linen Jewish burial shroud.
Written following a visit to the Pinkas Synagogue in Prague, where the 80,000 names of Czech and Moravian Jews who perished under the Nazis were hand-written on the walls of the synagogue.
The sky is the leaden gray
that denies the sun
and threatens the moon’s arrival.
It presses down on the roofs
of the tallest buildings,
wraps them in a depression
those on the street below feel
without need of looking up.
This is a teasing sky,
a drop here, there, until
we know we are on the razor’s edge of rain.
The sky laughs at us
as it retreats into the night.