From The Shadow Owner's Companion
Why so dark, so negative, about death?
you ask of what I write.
I am a loving wife, devoted mother
and yet none of this in poems?
I am all the lists, all the facets
of any woman’s life. Still,
I cannot reassure you that
my words are also features
of an inner world, that won’t
be tamed to play the fashion of
feathered graces. It is to
not be mannered, to not belong
to anyone, not even myself,
that I write. It is safer for us both
this way. Don’t read the
words. Stop being afraid.
Seven. I was seven when I went to
see the circus first. I have
hated them ever since.
Pitiless clowns hauled a
widow from her seat. She wore
a scarf and old black clothes,
and cried in knee-length
bloomers when they tore her
skirt. I cried too. Granny wore
pink bloomers just like those.
Her blouse undid as well and
everybody laughed except me
and the old lady. Daddy said
to worry not; she was just a
clown herself and not a lady even.
It was the meanest thing he
ever said. Anyone could tell
that she was shamed.
I hid a whisper behind the aspen trees so
when the time was right the air might carry it home.
And when the time was right the aspen trees would tremble
with my whispered breath, and the sound would soak the clear
blue lake in a cloudless light and it would sigh, look up,
look out and know the clear blue day in a cloudless light.
Long ago you planted aspen trees behind the breeze so when
lightly stroked they moaned with quivering delight,
and, when the time was right, a murmuring rising in the air
recalled your ancient whisper placed behind the aspen trees.