My Clear Blue Morning
By Sarah Stern
i. Holy Water
The black snake wraps around me,
but his head stands erect opposite mine.
He stares, knows that whatever I do won’t
matter; I’ll die from his grip anyway.
When they gather us in for quick dispatch,
I escape and walk through the dark valley
to those who didn’t know they were to die.
I dip my finger in holy water
from the flask I carry on my hip bone,
touch each one on their lips, their limbs,
make them whole again, place them back
where they were before he pulled tight.
ii. Haiku for Firefighters
When everyone runs
down they run up. We knew that.
Didn’t we know that?
iii. Portraits of Grief
I’m hoping that if I read these paragraphs
then I could add them back into the book
of life the way God apparently does on holy
days when he sits on his throne with all our
lives in blurbs before him and with one deep
breath he exhales and pushes us all to a
new page. And you’d think it’s enough —
it’s not my grief, it’s their families and friends.
I’m someone looking in from a far off place.
I have no right to feel this way. But I do.
It’s my city and my towers. And that morning
was my clear, blue morning.
iv. Driving North on 95 at Night
We see them off to the right, blue light.
The light makes me think of memorials
we’ve just seen — Lincoln on his white throne,
Jefferson in black watching the Potomac,
cherry blossoms opening. I want the light
to pass through me once so that my heart opens
again. My children watch the towers fade
into the sky line. “Why do they disappear
as we move closer?” my son asks. I say,
“Sometimes you have to be far away from
an object to see it clearer.” He says
“Shouldn’t it be the other way around?”
v. One Year Later
The sky is almost as blue
but so windy like fire
through the dry house.
My friend Esther says
spirits visit on anniversaries.
If you’re quiet you can hear
a door shut, a tea cup rattle.
My children watch the moon come up.
Silver sliver, wide backward “C”.
We think of words that could hang high:
Camel, Care, Cream, Cautious.