I’m a long-time resident of central NJ, where I’ve raised Yorkshire Terriers and small exotic birds for many years. The author of 24 books (poetry and nonfiction), I’m a former creative writing professor, founding director of the Carriage House Poetry Series, and poetry editor of Tiferet Journal. Website: www.Adelekenny.com Poetry Blog: www.adelekenny.blogspot.com
Stars, Like Souls
When I was a child, my father made
sense of it. Orion tilted at his fingertips,
and he rocked Cassiopeia’s chair with
hands so big I thought he would hold
me and all the stars forever. But stars,
like souls, step out of their bodies –
light more than light.
Tonight, frost burns the marigolds. A
last bird sings. I sit at my table and turn
a spoon sticky with sugar over and over
in my hands until my fingers shine the
way my father’s did in that neighborhood
of stars, that world I believed was the
world without end.
A jay on the fence preaches to a
squirrel. I watch the squirrel quiver,
the way squirrels do – its whole
body flickers. I’m not sure why this
reminds me of when I was five and
something died in our drain spout.
Feather or fur, I watched my father
dig it out, knowing (as a child knows)
how much life matters. I have seen how
easily autumn shakes the yellow leaves,
how winter razes the shoals of heaven.
I have felt love’s thunder and moan, and
had my night on the wild river. I have
heard the cancer diagnosis with my name
in it. I know what mercy is and isn’t.
Morning breaks from sparrows’ wings
(life’s breezy business), and I’m still here,
still in love with the sorrows, the joys –
days like this, measured by memory, the
ticking crickets, the pulse in my wrist.
It isn’t now or this patch of blue autumn,
light skimmed like milk without substance
(its ghost on my lips). Or the way trees darken
before the sky, the way light slants through
pines (my neighbor’s lamp or the moon).
It’s not the way night feels when I walk in
March, when snow melts into mud, and I
smell grass again; when I know, without seeing,
that tight buds open high in the branches. It’s
not the expected order of things but moments of
other (when something startles you into knowing
something other), and the heaviness lifts inside you.
Tonight, wind pulled leaves from the sky
to my feet and, suddenly (without warning) a
deer leapt from the thicket behind me – leapt
and disappeared – past me as I passed myself,
my body filled with absence, with air,
a perfect mold of the light gone through it.
Of Feathers, Of Flight
… if I look up into the heavens I think that it will all come right …
and that peace and tranquility will return again. -Anne Frank
That spring, a baby jay fell from its nest,
and we took it to Mrs. Levine, who told
us the mother would know our hands and
never take it back. Spring that year was a
cardboard box, cries for eyedropper food –
feather-stalks stretched into wings. We
knew, of course, that we couldn’t keep it.
(Later, we would mark the spot with stones
and twigs – where the bird fell, where we
let it go – and sometimes, stopped in the
middle of play, would point and say, there,
right there.) The day we freed it, it beat, a
heart-clock (wound and sprung in Ruth
Levine’s old hand) that, finally, finding
the sky, flew higher than all the briars
strung like metal barbs above the fence –
a speck of updraft ash and gone. Heaven,
fuller then for one small bird, spread its
blue wing over us and the tree and Mrs.
Levine who, breathing deeply, raised her
numbered arm to the light and moved her
thumb over each fingertip as if she could
feel to the ends of her skin the miracle
edge of freedom, of feathers, of flight.
©2014 Adele Kenny