When Everything You’ve Done and Everything That’s Happened to You Is Not What Your Life Is
She’s not sure how her life happened or why—the evidence is contradictory (unwise choices, the illnesses, grief). A goldfinch sings in the pine, its wing a fragile shadow cast through lingering light—the shape of silence.
There are things she keeps from herself—the nightmare she dreamt and re-dreamt until, finally, it meant nothing. The bullet passed through the leaf—the leaf didn’t fall.
The stone circle in her yard and the little house are solid in their places—ringed with water and birds. The sapling she planted is firm in the earth. Her puppy sleeps beside her, tail curled under his small body (the other dogs’ ghosts always close). What else did she want? Things she hoped for already begun—this is all good. Good. And enough.
(For My Father)
Memory is easy here, in springtime’s rimless light—and only a little rain to pattern the sky. There’s a faint (perhaps remembered) scent of wild violet. Something sweet that stays. Shadows tumble through clouds. It’s been more than thirty years—your death a grief that only now begins to know its name. All this time, I’ve rebuilt you out of dead leaves and wind, dumb with a feeling that even now, I can’t express—as if that dark were your happiness and you ran to it, years too young to be dead; as if, even now, you might open your hand and reach through time to where I wait.
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.
Adele Kenny is the author of twenty-three books (poetry & nonfiction). Her poems, reviews, and articles have been published worldwide, and her poems have appeared in books and anthologies published by Crown, Tuttle, Shambhala, and McGraw-Hill. She is the recipient of various awards, including two poetry fellowships from the NJ State Arts Council, a Merton Poetry of the Sacred Award, and the 2012 International Book Award for Poetry. A former creative writing professor in the College of New Rochelle’s Graduate School, she is founding director of the Carriage House Poetry Series and poetry editor of Tiferet Journal. Active in readings and in private and agency-sponsored workshops, she has read in the US, England, Ireland, and France, and has twice been a featured reader at the Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival. Website: www.Adelekenny.com/ The Music In It Poetry Blog: http://adelekenny.blogspot.com/