After the Wedding

by John Daniel

for Marilyn

After the white balloons were swept away
on the wind that had swallowed
most of our vows, after the embraces
and tears, the flung rose petals,
after new friends and old friends and aunts
from everywhere, after you tossed
the bouquet, and the cries of the children
raised coyote cries on the rim,
after chicken grilled on juniper coals,
cold beer from the cattle trough
and hours of hot dancing to Beatles and Stones,
the last of us swaying arms on shoulders,
singing ourselves hoarse,
how good it is
to find you now beyond all
the loud joy, driving north in rain
and the lovely ease of our silence.

Hemispheres by Grace Schulman


Our bodies, lucent under the bedclothes,
fit tightly like the pieces of a broken
terra-cotta vase now newly mended,
smooth surfaces, no jagged edges visible.

I’ve read that countries were so interlocked
before tectonic heavings, when the ocean
parted Mexico and Mauritania.
Brazil’s shoulder was hoisted to Nigeria,
Italy pressed Libya, Alaska
lay so close to Russia that fingers touched.
Our tremulous hands held fast in sleep at dawn;
legs, arms entwined, one continent, one mass.

What I Learned from My Mother

by Julia Kasdorf

I learned from my mother how to love
the living, to have plenty of vases on hand
in case you have to rush to the hospital
with peonies cut from the lawn, black ants
still stuck to the buds. I learned to save jars
large enough to hold fruit salad for a whole
grieving household, to cube home-canned pears
and peaches, to slice through maroon grape skins
and flick out the sexual seeds with a knife point.
I learned to attend viewings even if I didn’t know
the deceased, to press the moist hands
of the living, to look in their eyes and offer
sympathy, as though I understood loss even then.
I learned that whatever we say means nothing,
what anyone will remember is that we came.
I learned to believe I had the power to ease
awful pains materially like an angel.
Like a doctor, I learned to create
from another’s suffering my own usefulness, and once
you know how to do this, you can never refuse.
To every house you enter, you must offer
healing: a chocolate cake you baked yourself,
the blessing of your voice, your chaste touch.

A poem by Marilyn Darley Williams


            (for Mother)

It is not what she would want me
to remember
but I picture her
            fresh washed hair
            done up in brush rollers
            crisp white sleeveless blouse
            with denim shorts.
If I squint real hard,
I can see her in a party dress,
hair bouffant, straight from the salon
rhinestones dangling;
mostly I see
            the hair rollers,
            see her sitting at the piano.
With the washer jumping out of tune
in the other room,
I watch her play Sunrise Serenade
            then Nola.
I hear her long painted nails
            clicking on the keys.

Welcome Morning

by Anne Sexton

There is joy
in all:
in the hair I brush each morning,
in the Cannon towel, newly washed,
that I rub my body with each morning,
in the chapel of eggs I cook
each morning,
in the outcry from the kettle
that heats my coffee
each morning,
in the spoon and the chair
that cry “hello there, Anne”
each morning,
in the godhead of the table
that I set my silver, plate, cup upon
each morning.

All this is God,
right here in my pea-green house
each morning
and I mean,
though often forget,
to give thanks,
to faint down by the kitchen table
in a prayer of rejoicing
as the holy birds at the kitchen window
peck into their marriage of seeds.

So while i think of it,
let me paint a thank-you on my palm
for this God, this laughter of the morning,
lest it go unspoken.

The Joy that isn’t shared, I’ve heard,
dies young.


(D.H. Lawrence)

THERE are no gods, and you can please yourself
have a game of tennis, go out in the car, do some shopping, sit
    and talk, talk, talk
with a cigarette browning your fingers.

There are no gods, and you can please yourself --
go and please yourself --

But leave me alone, leave me alone, to myself!
and then in the room, whose is the presence
that makes the air so still and lovely to me?

Who is it that softly touches the sides of my breast
and touches me over the heart
so that my heart beats soothed, soothed, soothed and at peace?

Who is it smooths the bed-sheets like the cool
smooth ocean where the fishes rest on edge
in their own dream?

Who is it that clasps and kneads my naked feet, till they
till all is well, till all is utterly well? the lotus-lilies of the feet!

I tell you, it is no woman, it is no man, for I am alone.
And I fall asleep with the gods, the gods
that are not, or that are
according to the soul's desire,
like a pool into which we plunge, or do not plunge.