The thought of Zelda Fitzgerald
dancing herself to death-by-fire
on the top floor of an insane asylum
gives me pause in the presence
of fire always, with fear attending.
Once scorched, any one of us thinks
twice about where the extinguisher is;
then memorizes, “In case of fire …”
before putting on dancing shoes.
The plywood hammered into place
over plate glass windows.
Survival kits of band-aids, flashlights
sandbags at the reaches of the tide.
It’s a monster, they say, the coming
hurricane, christened Florence––
a name for a friendly waitress,
a name that might tame some of its power.
At the hurricane center, who names
has power. (Remember Adam
walking in Eden, naming, naming …)
Forecasters hang their hats on
multiple fictions. Powerless before
Nature, what else can they do but hope?
On this day of destruction, the Word comes down
as bodies came down through the sacred air
as the towers themselves came down in fire and dust
choking those running away in donated sneakers
those running barefoot to Brooklyn, to Bedford Stuy
running, running away to the future, to this anniversary
when we remember the runners, the jumpers
the hostages on the planes; the lovers of fire
who commandeered those planes, those misguided
ones who worshiped death. But a new altar arises
today, when the Word comes down as life, new life
these 17 years gone; new life in the womb
of the present moment. New life that is breath
for those in New York and beyond.
Judith Robbins will read from her second collection of poems, The Bookbinder’s Wife, on Sunday, May 27 at 1 p.m. at Barnes & Noble, Augusta.
The Bookbinder’s Wife will be available, as will be her first collection, The North End. There will be time for discussion during and after the reading.
On Sunday, March 18, 2018, Judith Robbins will join poets Claire Hersom and Susann Pelletier for a reading of their poems and conversation about poetry in their lives.
This event, dubbed “Blue Collar Daughters,” is the first in a monthly series of community poetry and conversations sponsored by L/A Arts.The event will take place between 2 and 4 p.m. in the L/A Arts Gallery, 221 Lisbon St., Lewiston.
A donation of $4 is suggested, and there will be light fare offered. The poets’ books will be available for sale.
I sat across the table from you
leaking tears and talking, talking
trying to put my finger on why I wept
and felt embarrassed in a class where we
discussed the abuse of women and girls.
The tears began as I tried to articulate the need
for awareness of all those who at that moment
(when we were discussing their situations
in a much removed room at divinity school)
were alone in their abuse, with no relief in sight.
Trying to discern the reason for tears
while explaining to you the sense of distance
I felt between me and my body,
me and my skin, even while the invitation
to fill that space hung in the air.
What else would God do but weep? you said.
I rode your words bareback into that space
where compassion closed the gap. I felt
how the heart of God is the part of how
we are one with ourselves and with each other.
Mommy, come and look at this,
my son called from the back door stoop.
I can’t. I’m busy. What have you got?
His answer lost in the distance between us
I called out louder, What have you got?
A bee. He’s walking on my cheek. See?
Blinded by dishes piled up to the brink
of my mind mired down in mashed potato
I called from the sink, Probably a fly,
and chose not to walk to the stoop
where he sat waiting. In that moment
of meanness, the bee stung; starving
children bit the dust, the nails in our house
began to rust, and Jack Benny died.
And my son cried out, pouring tears,
healing rain, onto the infinite desert of sin.