Somewhat Nuts III
Postcards from Italy: Islands of the Venetian Lagoon

Sundays . . . Are for Poetry

IMG_5537

You Can't Have It All

But you can have the fig tree and its fat leaves like clown hands
gloved with green.  You can have the touch of a single eleven-year-old finger
on your cheek, waking you at one a.m. to say the hamster is back.
You can have the purr of the cat and the soulful look
of the black dog, the look that says, If I could I would bite
every sorrow until it fled, and when it is August,
you can have it August and abundantly so.  You can have love,
though often it will be mysterious, like the white foam
that bubbles up at the top of the bean pot over the red kidneys
until you realize foam's twin is blood.
You can have the skin at the center between a man's legs,
so solid, so doll-like.  You can have the life of the mind,
glowing occasionally in priestly vestements, never admitting pettiness,
never stooping to bribe the sullen guard who'll tell you
all roads narrow at the border.
You can speak a foreign language, sometimes,
and it can mean something.  You can visit the marker on the grave
where you father wept openly.  You can't bring back the dead,
but you can have the words forgive and forget hold hands
as if they meant to spend a lifetime together.  And you can be grateful
for makeup, the way it kisses your face, half spice, half amnesia, grateful
for Mozart, his many notes racing one another towards joy, for towels
sucking up the drops on your clean skin, and for proper thirsts,
for passion fruit, for saliva.  You can have the dream,
the dream of Egypt, the horses of Egypt and you riding in the hot sand.
You can have your grandfather sitting on the side of your bed,
at least for a while, you can have clouds and letters, the leaping
of distances, and Indian food with yellow sauce like sunrise.
You can't count on grace to pick you out of a crowd
but here is your friend to teach you how to high jump,
how to throw yourself over the bar, backwards,
until you learn about love, about sweet surrender,
and here are periwinkles, buses that kneel, farms in the mind
as real as Africa.  And when adulthood fails you,
you can still summon the memory of the black swan on the pond
of your childhood, the rye bread with peanut butter and bananas
your grandmother gave you while the rest of the family slept.
There is the voice you can still summon at will, like your mother's,
it will always whisper, you can't have it all,
but there is this.

--- Barbara Ras, Bite Every Sorrow

Comments

Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

margene

I was surprised to see the title of the poem, but then, the line that stood out for me was what the dogs eyes said.

claudia

Oh my god. I'm a puddle right now.

Carole

You know, a lot of the time I feel like poetry goes right over my head. This, though, is amazing. And I get it.

Bonny

Poetry is not something I read often nor understand well, but this one really says something to me. I couldn't resist an incredibly cheap copy from Amazon, and now I can't wait to read more of Ras' poems.

Debbie

I want to sit with this one and read it over & over. Thanks for sharing!

Mary

"Mozart, his many notes racing one another towards joy" ... thank you for sharing - I really enjoyed reading and re-reading this one!

Kim

Lovely, simply lovely. Thank you so much for sharing poetry with us. I loved it as a young adult and somehow lost touch with it. Please keep sharing. <3

Marilyn

I agree with Carole!

Pam

Thank you.

The comments to this entry are closed.