Cellos

Wrap me in a shroud of cello music—

Let me pay my boatman with

Close and heathery melodies –

What sphere’s music exists that is so fine,

So wise and yet so impossibly human? –

Lay me to rest to the tree’s lullabies,

The music of plants, who remember

And do not speak.

 

Place me in the house of strings,

And let the chapel be hung with the low

And whole notes of a mournful instrument,

And speak only with bow-kissed strings,

Let the only tremor be in fingers

Pressed, calloused, along the smooth cords –

 

For if I am bound up to death like Persephone,

Let it be to the sound of wind

And moors, furred with lavender,

Feathered with this fairy music,

For then I will not perish in death,

But come again into myself –

Like a butterfly or a bear,

Awakening into daylight

Unblurred, undrowsy, unashamed of sleep.

 

©K Paige Medina 20 November 2017

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Tío

for Uncle Jorden 

I never thought I feared death.
But I feel its presence in the way I can feel the soles of my feet
rise up into my stomach
when I look at the scaffolding outside my window;
the pain I can feel churning my insides into typhoon seas
when I see bloodied fingertips,
cuticles cracking,
skinned knees.

I always thought death would be
like a large room full of empty rooms,
the hollowness of wooden floors,
large and cavernous doorways beckoning slow movements,
a wandering, bare foot —
a place where billowing things were kept,
a place that, the closer it came to night, the more oppressive the emptiness became —
all the rooms suffocating in the staunchness of their silence,
unwhispered secrets stealing the whimsy out of curtains,
dipping white sheets into starch,

eternity kept like a madwoman in the attic.

I pictured it quiet that way,
but I forgot about the fire that kind of silence threatens.
Perhaps death cannot be so silent.

Perhaps it must be let out,

consuming air like water, like earth, like
the oblivion of city nights in the summertime.

Perhaps death is like August,
when empty rooms still trap heat in their ceilings,
when memories become cacophonous,
rattling their unwelcome spirits through the narrowing corridors,
never to be let out.

Will you tell me
when I see you again
if I was right?

 

Perhaps it is not right to ask,
when the silence of many years stretches still between us,
but I have only ever asked things from you
when it was too late to ask,
and you have only ever given me
the sunbleached memories of
tumbleweeds
and turtles,

the tenuous and safe way a child remembers
stories she heard from happy relatives who,
drunk and falling asleep beneath the warmth of Christmas lights,
could only laugh,
only clutch with their sleepy lungs
at air that would eventually calcify into
the fondness of imperfect memory.

I wish I knew you since.

I wish I could hear your voice now,
telling me perhaps not to be so sentimental.
Telling me perhaps that I was right —
that death is not so frightening as living.

Don’t say to me that

the reason I didn’t fear death was because
I didn’t expect it to come for someone else.

 

©K Paige Medina 04 August 2017

Stone

I dreamed once of a little child
Whose name was that of stone,
And for all I’ve ever felt alive
That child has felt alone.
We’ve wandered long, two specters twinned
Up to the gates of hell,
But for all our silent, ghostly looks,
I could never really tell
If that child followed in my wake,
A lonely phantom saint,
Or whether it was I who trailed,
Sullen, bruised,
likely to faint.

I get the feeling he has walked
Much farther yet than I,
Yet wander on I know he must —
Little longing yet to die.
So let us go then he and I
Into that depth of place
That stops as suddenly as a fall
In his ghastly childish face.

©K Paige Medina 28 June 2017

The Good Dream

On Colombia

One of the joys of living
Must be
To crack things that are whole
And to push over
The tall things we have built,
Watching them
Break
Shatter
Into the smallness of themselves.
Do we feel stronger
In chaos?
Perhaps it is the false purpose,
The lightning licked
Sense of self
That we seek
When we give in to our
Death drive
And end things we’ve begun.

But then,
There is also
Some quiet motif
That there are those who
Stubbornly
Hold fast to the light,
And to the creation
Of beautiful things.

Shaking hands in white shirts,
Their
Obstinate fingers lacing quietly
Over the mouth of history,
Bidding it be silent
A moment,
Men promised a nation
Half punch drunk from too much
War and solitude
A morning of peace.
And perhaps it is merely
Shadows performing their macabre dance
Like peace usually is–
Perhaps it is a dream.
But in its unobtrusive hope
Let it be;
It is a good dream.

© K Paige Medina 9/27/2016

The Breach

I fell asleep in no-man’s-land,
With flower petals in my hand.
Above my head an orange sky
Blows angels’ flight paths all awry.
We fell in love like dreamers do,
with sound and fury and ado.
We pinned ourselves to each other’s breast
And let the world do the rest.
We held our hands with spiky smiles—
Secrets, intrigue, lovers’ wiles—
Our paths were bound to wander down
Into each wasted bitter town,
And crest again those wanton shores,
And leave us always wanting more.
Alone I sleep, till some long hour
When I’ll restore this broken flower
Once more to that dear breach I sought
To lose once more the battles fought.

© K Paige Medina 9/5/2016

The Clock Breaks

Clocks are very lonesome things, as
their tireless ticking shows;
what other thing holds time itself
in regimented rows?
Its hands are stiff and even,
its face is round yet sallow,
its purpose simple yet mundane,
its love broken and fallow.
And yet it keeps on ticking,
marching out to dust the time
in metrical perfection–
its sisyphean rhyme.

A clock does not ask questions
nor ponder why it moves
time from life to seconds,
as its ceaseless slicing proves.
A clock could never face
the senselessness of time
were it alive and breathing

imperfectly.