For Harper

A friend of mine wrote a poem for Harper. It's difficult to respond to a poem especially from such a gifted poet because the first thing you want to say is, "It's beautiful." But “beautiful” is no word for a poet. When I give people paintings they can say, "It's beautiful," or "it really looks like me," because I am a painter. I don’t not work in words. If, for instance people had to respond to my paintings with drawings, well I'd probably like that very much, but it would be difficult to communicate how they felt.

Well, I haven't figured out how to tell this friend how I feel about her poem. The least I can do is share it with you.

carbon, love & water
To Harper

meet the world's pale recycled light
bordering a thousand ancient molecules
draped in mossy old growth forests
and cradled by the bluest basins of ocean
a planetary gala, that's the love,
welcome little one.

you are made of mother and father
and all the pieces of their history,
and stardust, don't forget,
the constellations are hung over your bed
like bioluminescent blueprints
and like the first skywatchers,
(the Babylonians knew the moon)
your north will be true.

learn the world with nomad spirit
you are connected by the love to everything
here, trace the seams of the earth,
hold little truths in your palm like pearls
the solar system revolving
and gather the sun each morning
in you perfect irises
and let your heart remember the patterns.

Erica Schlaffer


I'll be your bird

I used to think it was A Tiny Mexican Divorce. In a Portuguese Saloon, a fly is circling around the room. I found out it was A Tidy Mexican Divorce. This changed my mind. I was going up stairs (I think). In a town with mud walls fingerprinted by (what’s that sound?) my mother, a quick and Tidy Mexican Divorce has taken place. I'm sure they walk in separate directions; perhaps they circle around a room first, then in separate directions. They do not want to risk crossing paths again. Maybe it was a ladder I was climbing up, or maybe I was just getting into the shower. Maybe it didn't occur to me until later when I was looking for the pen that’s hard to control.

I was tidying up when I found it. The plastic casing it is in is slightly cracked. It makes my marks look scratchy like a mathematician's or a Saloon owner's. That path might not be the shortest but in time it will arrive, first to the window, then to the bar, and then eventually to the floor. The same one with warped boards and bent nails, stained with the normal things the bottoms of stomachs are layered in. It was better the other time I wrote it. I have proof. It's too old to be acting this way.

Melville said no one could write volumes on a creature like a flea because it is too small. You need a subject like the great White Whale to focus on if you want to accomplish volumes. Ah ha! I keep but sorry guard! Knowing where to put punctuation makes you an ass. I will write volumes on the flea. I will look like Polonius when compared with Proust. I need no Great White Whale. The world needs no Great White Whale. My flea and Melville's whale will walk in separate directions. I know Birds and whales can't fall in love. I remember hearing they bought a round for the sailor. He said, "You can not live in the ocean" and she said to him, "You never can live in the sky." But the ocean is filled with tears, and the sea turns into a mirror. There’s a whale in the moon when it's clear, and a bird on the tide. I'll be your tidy bird.