for Helen Luster
As I juggle these bean bags
each is a poem, a verse I’ve heard you speak
each a firm, even-weighted recollection,
preserved in the perfect shape to juggle.
This is your porch, the honey suckle vines, the bees,
telephone ringing from next door punctuates every word you utter
incessant exclamation points,
this is your bony cat, his vertebrae poke like knuckles from his back,
he will only curl in your lap,
only settle on the quilt that wraps your legs
this is your glasses, crooked on your face
the connecting joint bent or missing
I don’t know which.
you slip them off your nose, cradle them in hands nearly as thin
as you discuss the poem you just read,
“I don’t know if it’s a poem,” you say.
this is Paul’s sun splattered veranda,
the trees that lurch and sway
leaves rustle in discussion of their own
as the potluck crowd mingles, balancing paper plates as they
manufacture conversation, or slip into old debates like worn sweatshirts
you hardly leave your chair, a shadow drapes across your face
from the wide brimmed hat.
Ambi Sextrous performs,
your quiet eyes observing as he sings
Every memory whirls through the air before me
as I think of you.
The bean bags tumble,
rolling unevenly on the floor.
I crouch to my kees and pick each up.
But I don’t resume the juggling.
I hold the pieces I have left
like eggs. I know inside
an embryo, a stirring grows.
-- 3/5/85, 3/7/85