I’ve always imagined that one of these nights I’d see my mother’s ghost. I would welcome the sight welcome she that bore me, not she that stepped in in a way,absolving my birth mother of her sin, while assuming adopting me would make her complete.
She hasn’t visited yet, neither has done so, but I hold out hope, it is after all the last to go, and I do hear her voice, faint and all too distant, sounding very much like my own one instant and then no more than a faint whisper in retreat.
I don’t need a long conversation, a few words would more than suffice, but some at least, a child should in advancing age hear the sound of a mother’s voice, if only to find solace in the fact that her choice to yield the child was made from love not defeat.
Mockingbirds greet the morning
Great Blue Herons stare
imagining their voices
night sweetly welcome the dawn
The great temple bell
awaits the morning, the monk,
its daily purpose
cast deep within the metal
always verging on release
Smoke of incense too
prostrates itself to Buddha
soon a morning breeze
or the freedom of the sky
We listen carefully certain we can hear it if and when it appears. We hear nothing, but we are used to not hearing, but faith is a far more patient than it is given credit for and we have nothing to do in any event, other than to abide an event we cannot predict and non-prediction is a skill we have refined since we were evicted from the garden, apple in hand.
You must be home now, or somewhere you can answer my call, and the busy signal or disembodied voice, purporting to be you can only mean that this very moment if you are calling me the busy signal or disembodied voice purporting to be me is giving you a momentary frustration rivaling my own. This must be the state of the world for otherwise you failure to answer could mean but one thing, and I can no more accept the preposterous idea that you might actually be speaking to someone else rather than awaiting my call with bated breath, and certainly not that you are sleeping, your phone switched off, never mind that where you are, it is well past midnight.
forty-three years I’ve searched for my voice a whisper cracked hoarse one moment fluid another then silent. I shape words which fall off my tongue and lie in puddles on the floor. I step in them slipping regaining perilous toehold. I scream strangled thoughts dreams are forgotten the night laughs, she touches my forehead with her lips I welcome the silence of sleep.
First appeared in RE:AL The Journal of Liberal Arts 23:2, 1998
He loves looking at the sky, particularly at night for he knows someday they will contact him, and if not him, someone else who, like him, loves looking at the sky. He has no idea what the message will be he isn’t sure he, or anyone, will be able to understand it, but he is certain he or that other someone will know the message has been received, and that will be enough; leave it to others to decipher things. That is something his kind has been doing for millennia, though he fears if he receives the message, or someone like him does, understanding or not, it will mark the moment of the death of God, or the birth of a new, another, God, or just maybe they will rewrite the ancient books and hearing God’s voice will no longer lead instantly to madness, which he imagines to be madness itself.
In this place there is a fatted, sacrificial silence. It is the large Jewish Cemetery nestling the road where Maryland and the District are loosely stitched together. It is a small plot goldenrod dirt outskirting Lisbon.
This ground is sacred not for the blessing of one who has taken the tallit of holiness. The sanctity of this ground leaches from the simple pine boxes that return with the body to the soil.
The stones, mostly simple with neatly incised Hebrew inscriptions are all blank to me, worn smooth by memory denied. I place my ear carefully to each, wanting to hear a voice, a fractured whisper that will resonate in the hollow spaces.
I pass by those with shared names for if he or she is here each must share the isolation they willed me. I look at the faces of passing mourners — none resemble the morning mirror.
I grow tired of the search, sit in the paltry shade of the ricinus plant knowing we both will be gone by sundown.
First Appeared in Legal Studies Forum, Vol. 29, No. 1, 2005.
He often comes to me in dreams. In most he is faceless, but intently present, speaking in a voice I instantly know, nothing like mine and totally mine. On occasion his face appears, blurred, as if seen through a scrim, back-lit, vague, an actor in some film I have seen, but yet not that person, that character. For a while I saw my own face, but I knew that was just my wishful mind filling in a gap which has yet to be filled, knowing that it likely never will.
There is probably much that could be said, a bit less that should be said, but I I’m not the person to say it, and remain silent. You are surprised by the silence — it is not what you expect of me, and that you find disconcerting and a bit unnerving. If I asked you what you would have me say, I doubt you could find anything in particular. It is more the sound of my voice you expect, not the words I choose to utter or retain. It all comes down to words, doesn’t it? And yet they fail us with such regularity, we each must wonder why we speak at all.