|Cynthia Grier Lotze
I want to tell you now
that things are dire. The houses in ruins
are so many they are metaphorical.
Their rebuilding is a mission outlined
in mysterious potentials. And the bodies
outnumber the wrecks of their homes—so what is to be done?
You and I are so small, sitting here. We talk
sadly, and your strong love is not
strong enough. There are too many houses, the bodies
of the dead line every street in every city.
We cannot begin to talk of comets.
We begin even so.
The re-gathering thunderstorm now,
and in the middle years there are things
both measurable and immeasurable: friends
gone, to God and other places—somehow
I forget to speak of how everything means
something else. Again and again
I forget the re-measuring, the frame
for love and suffering, which conflate
themselves. They leave me looking
at the lightless sky. I forget,
I forget. There was something—
it is the thing it is, like nothing else—buried
in the dark.
Years before my waiting, years before
my searching, waiting, renewing
the search, my mother sits
at a lunch counter, her older brother,
an unlucky number sitting beside her.
A dark hand appears, my mother's
child-sized sandwich on a plate—the hand
retreats and my mother watches the waiter's
back as he moves away. I forget,
she says to my uncle, what do you call
him? Her brother, eighteen and counted
carefully, dreadfully, turns, looking
at my mother, her small feet kicking far
above the ground—You call him Sir, he says.
We begin in the ways that small things
must begin: rise in the morning, eat, listen
to what is sad (so many things) and what is
hopeful (one thing today) on the radio. We have
begun then, without quite knowing it. We are sad
or we are hopeful, but we have risen and eaten,
and there is the gorgeous business of the world
to commence. And today it is gorgeous, unbearably
so. We walk over bridges spanning rivers, bake
bread and fix what we know is manageable. We think
of the unmanageable and wonder,
How are we to begin?