After Reading Nye’s Poem, Kindness

“Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.”
~Naomi Shihab Nye

“And love is love is love is love is love is love is love is love.”
~Lin-Manuel Miranda

       for my daughter, Miranda

Before you know what love really is
You have to strip yourself
Of everything
Every feeling
Every article of clothing
Every sound
Taste
Smell

Get rid of it all

Every material thing
You ever felt
You have to get rid
Of what you thought love is/or was

You have to give birth
      (or hold a child
      or a butterfly
      or a miracle
      or faith
      or race your horse across an empty cornfield
      without bit or saddle)

Love is love unaware
Of anything
But everything
Like bravery
Like a caterpillar spreading her wings
Knowing she doesn’t yet have wings
You too, don’t need wings
Because you already know how to fly
As you grand jeté
Landing softly but with firmness
Only a mountain understands
A thousand years later
As the sun sets and kisses Earth goodnight

A mother rocks
Nurses
Coos
Her golden, littlest love to sleep

Before you know what love is
You have to empty your soul
Like a yogi
Empties breath
All the way out until lung is flat
And the heart muscle has to remember
How to pump
Because life is not without

Hope

It has to have hope
Else we drown
One
By
One
Until it is just Adam and Eve, again
Standing naked
But this time they don’t see
Because they’re blind
And maybe this time

We’ll get it right

We’ll all fall into an abyss
And swim, and swim

We’ll be familiar with the
Darkness
Because we never knew anything else
Like we are back inside the
Womb
From which we all came
A quiet blackness
Of warmth
Of love
Safe
Content
Alone

Before you know what love is
You have to empty your pockets all the way out

And still believe

You are whole
You are brave

© Gina Marselle
May 28, 2020

My Daughter at American Ballet Theatre, NYC | Summer 2017 | Photo by Gina Marselle

Plague Ship

Emily Bjustrom

Chafed and cherished
Burned and blessed
Irritated and honored

I feel like a sausage stuffed into a dress
I feel like no one is listening

when beauties can’t sleep it’s a tragedy,
when I can’t sleep it’s indigestion.

Why do empty parking lots
feel like ghost towns?

What makes one
lone streetlight more romantic than any other?
Burning through the night-

No one will ever
hold these memories
and love them.

No one will ever
curl exactly
like you do-

You are an abandoned
boat house
on a wide lazy river.

I climbed
the magnolia tree
even though I am
too fat and too old.

You are my plague
and we plague each other.

The days yawn and snap shut

joints shift
in and out of place.

What does it mean
when little chamomile flowers
grow next to the front porch?

What does it mean when the worst thing you can do to a stranger is kiss?

My body is a ouija board.
My body is a play pen.
My body is a plague ship.

I’m a river.
I’m a house.
I’m halfway there.

Children with milk
smooth faces
smoke and fuck
call me cunt
nobody listens.

Half in and half out
which foot will you use
to step in this mess?

My body creaks
yours does too.

People are the plague
and we plague each other.

Red Is the Color of Breath

 

Red is the color of breath.

Splendid since colors named,

endless as time.

It symbolizes everything

about the past, present and future.

It follows extremes.

It sways in the moonlit breeze.

Flits like a feather toward the Rio—

graceful on the current.

Swaying with the evening stars and winter clouds.

Red covers cold air with warmth.

Passion.

Fire.

Love,

always love.

Red holds sacredness,

places it on heart

strings.

Guitar

plays

one,

quiet note at a time—

like Maria sings

to the children

in Sound of Music

high up where snow blankets mountain tops

like ocean whitecaps.

This is no rescue.

No mediation.

Sand is old.

It knows more stories than

our Sandia and Rio combined.

It mixes with blood of life

with Passion of Christ

from dust to dust.

Red is the color of breath.

It flits south hungrily now on the moonlight

like a rabbit baits coyote, as a red tail hawk hunts.

Winter is ending, an unremarkable taciturn,

an endless blackness—

waiting for spring to release winter

to release depressed thoughts—

anything the mind packed.

Now, Red, flits over the mesa

to the peak of the Sandia’s.

Calls out to black bear—

soft and gentle,

an unhurried request

to release spring.

In its journey finding ways to heal,

Red plunges into sun,

as red tail hawk dives for mouse.

Brilliance born

admiration, worship.

Gratitude as Sun

gives breath to morning sky.

There are no answers—

only forgiveness.

Faith.

Hope.

Love,

always love.

Red mediates in this blessed silence honoring

life as Earth wakes. Soon, Red blends

into all colors so others may revere.

©Gina Marselle, 2020

Self portrait of the poet.

 

Day 9

It’s been rainy for days

(or cloudy, or rainy then cloudy, then rainy and so forth).

It’s the end of the world as we know it…

R.E.M.’s song plays in my mind

over

and over

until my head literally aches,

until the news explodes

and anxiety turns to panic.

I can’t breathe!

Stop.

Inhale.

Exhale.

I can’t control this virus, which is infesting

our world like termites in drywall.

It is crumbling, the death toll is massive.

This pandemic is for the ages. History will learn

what to do, what not to do.

We can’t go outside. No parks, no stores, no school. No holding love ones.

My little boy sleeps in my California king size bed,

he is so tiny; his lips are fat. All I see is his newborn self.

In reality, he’s seven and big for his age.

Yesterday, he asked me, “How do I know if I have the virus?”

He says, matter-of-factly, “I asked Google, but she doesn’t know.”

I share, “You will have the worse cough of your life. Fever.”

“Don’t worry,” I say. “We are safe in our home.” (I hope, I say quiet in my mind).   

I remember when I nursed him, protected him in the cradle of my arms and breast.

I have an urge to do that now. Protect him.

It’s the end of the world as we know it…

This pandemic is an apocalypse. It is like a Ray Bradbury sci-fi short story.

Except, it is true. This pandemic. This virus.

Hunting us like night owls chasing mice.

Call it what you will: SARS-CoV-2. COVID-19. Coronavirus.

#corona

#Istayhomefor

#alltogether

#flattenthecurve

#invisibleenemy

In Italy, 4,825 deaths. The world over 10,000, and we are still counting.

From Wuhan, China, to New York City.

Every continent except Antarctic.

Run.

But where?

I pray for so many. Where to begin?

My family, friends, doctors, nurses, the sick, world leaders, the Pope…

I write/pray well into the night. The candle is burning low.

I have to wonder, is it the end of the world?

God, is it?

I wear my blue glass rosary around my neck.

It touches my skin all day. 24 hours a day.

I am in prayer. It gives me strength, comfort.

I pray in between sips of coffee, in the silence

of morning.

In the blackness of 6:45 a.m.

This is no spring.

It has been rainy for days.

When will the sun shine again?

I see the glimpse of rays peeking through the cottonwoods.

I see a rainbow,

in the sky.

In my son’s drawings.

I take solace that my family is home safe.

I see little moments of hope. I watch on the news for

little glimmers of hope of people singing on balconies,

people emerging from lockdowns in China to finally photograph nature again.

When the Sun truly rises, when the virus is defeated

(hopefully), life will still

be here. It will be different. But it will still be here.

Maybe, the world will hold hands again

in peace

and joy

and thanksgiving.

I can only imagine.

But I have to have hope.

We are all in this together.

It’s the end of the world as we know it

It’s the end of the world as we know it

It’s the end of the world as we know it

and I feel fine…

because I have hope. 

© Gina Marselle, March 22, 2020

9 days and counting…

Image taken by Gina Marselle from her car window using an iPhone 7 Plus, March 19, 2020