I could have been born a cloud

Liza Wolff-Francis

maybe float away, not leaving
any trace of image against sky,
my shadow moving across earth
into all we see once and thousands

of times, recognizable only
by its species and shape rather than
our smile or the sound of laughter
come from deep belly and throat.

The cloud does not worry about
where the wind will take it,
does not plan its next trip or its tomorrow,
it gathers its tears from the beauty

it sees below, carries its vision like song.
It rises, ready to nourish the earth,
floats like laughter across the air,
welcomes the new year’s sound like light.

At the holy ground

Liza Wolff-Francis

we are people composting slowly,
decade after decade we watch
the young birth themselves
into this world we have given them.

At the holy ground, there is lush
green brush, there is warmth
of sun, the cool of water, rock
mountain temple before sky.

At the holy ground, my pleasures
are gathered and woven together
like chain link, but softer,
like silk. The most curious

birds with tufts on their heads,
peck at memories, rise together
like levitation in the quiet air,
as if they hadn’t always been there.

At the holy ground, it was like
we had barely wanted any atonement
or penance at any time in our lives,
but suddenly we hoped

for a blessing to appear out of nowhere,
like we needed it in order to go on
into the loneliness we knew
would soon be floodlit,

its every movement echoing
like a tree falling. Here,
the petals of flowers wait for me
to lie down and kiss the earth,

to lap at their spilled nectar.
We eat dandelions, imagine
ourselves as strong, as new
as the words sung to us

by the voices we love,
as if they were angels
or mermaids or goddesses.
I should just call them goddesses.

While he sleeps,

Liza Wolff-Francis

I sit in the dark of morning, inhale
the sacred silence that comes between

his breaths like a tiptoe. My body balances
on the edge of the bed as if it was to decide

which day to climb out of. His breath, even
and pacing, as if it were the day moving

through itself and an occasional animal sound,
a raccoon perhaps, a squirrel, a dog, a bear.

My bear behind me, vulnerable like all
that would kill us is far from here, far from us.

My prayers that it will stay that way hover
at the floorboard cracks, like a spell of salt

and peppermint oil to keep away dark shadows,
politicians in their masks, the America

I criticize and want to be different. Only all that I love
here in the dark right at my fingertips, holding up

the droop of my breasts, the bend of my toes,
the wild of my hair. While you sleep, the air

holds me in its dying night and I wait to remember
myself, all skin and bone, in the coming light.