Stars are Small Holes

                                             Thirteen Meditations on my Father’s Passing

Barbara Black

I

 

your lips/ silent movie

 

II

 

far from rattling grain cars
wind trembles prairie grass

the hills gather light
 

III
 

I see you by the Red River
throwing rocks while a blackbird
refuses to sing/ preferring its shadow

 

IV
 

what to do with his ashes
hold them
snow gathers on fence posts
hold him here
in my slow white world

 

V

 

fireflies/ I have a lamp

there is no path
streams of wire-thin light
sever our limbs/ scatter our eyes
insects fly away with our body parts
bees make honey of us/ it smells of
crushed grass and iodine

 

VI


stoplight pulses warning
empty crossing/ 4 am death
owl thinks it’s blood
pouring from a hole in the sky

bat thinks it’s an echo
bounced off an eye
the insomniac hears it
as a strident note
red-red-red-red

VII

Chopin dreamt at thirty-nine

that a surgeon came
posing as a piano tuner/

pressed his thumb
firmly on one ventricle/

altered the key/
causing Chopin’s death

VIII

underneath all gestures

mainsprings/
water dancing on a hot pan
without heat we are frozen melody


IX

 

you did not realize you could read lips

 

X

ice drips on metal
faint heart taps
long dash/ dot-dot / long dash/—

 

how is an echo possible in infinite space
your body wishes not to speak
a knock, then another/

cold entry into whiteness
 

XI

 

lullaby and goodnight

plays in space/ distorts

like an adult being squeezed

back through the birth canal

 

XII
 

snow stops
words dissolve

 

XIII

 

your mouth open

as if astonished

(pp. 18-20, The Hong Kong Review, Vol. II, No. 3)