The Shapes Cycle

(the titles are links to the original posts)



Shape I 

There is a hole in life 
that has your shape

and I think that though
I've talked about it, I 

have not looked at it
in a very long time.

It has always been there,
none the less, a singularity

pulling at my thoughts
all these many years.



 Shape II 

a sharp thing lives
for many years at october's end.

a sharp thing asks  
for quiet about the house.

no mood for tricks,
the trick of life 
being enough to manage.

sharp especially should 
memory fall 
like a weight on a friday
as the day itself did.

dulled now
by age and time and youth
from bitter to 
bitter-sweet

watching one 
grow is kin 
to slow forgetting.

forgetting the pain of one
forgets the joy of another.

growing up, 
one grows away.

these things converse correlatively.



 Shape III 

The body always remembers 
the traumas of the heart.

Whether virtual or real, 
the body remembers.



 Shape IV 

an emptiness murmurs 
and babbles a bit 
in the background
always.

a bit of possessed 
silence speaks 
a bit louder 
when dress-forms are about,
when fabrics or yarn are mentioned.

last words of love catch 
over a car,
unawares.

the rough skin of hands
on embroidery silk,

small colors, fraying
threads.  time cannot move
that car from between us.



 Shape V 

I dreamed I saw you last night.

We are in an apartment, preparing for a tasting 
in the vacant apartment next door,
(a place that I have slept through before).

I remember a silver 
dragon, hanging
—by a crook in its tail— 
from a hook on the wall.

I arrive to teach a class, squeeze into a booth
and a woman greets me, says, “Here you are just like…
well, just like this morning.”  I get situated, put a tool-kit 
behind me on the back of the booth.  Magpie is with me.  
You arrive, very pregnant and squeeze into the booth 
on the other side of Maggie and I hug you tightly, my hand 
on your face.  I cry hard and say, "I've missed you so much,” 
and you tell me that you are free all night and I say, ”We have 
a tasting.”  At the same time, you say, "You have a tasting.”



 Shape VI 

There is a hole there,
where she used to be.

It is quiet most of the time
but sometimes the silence
in the change of the season
is sound enough 
to pressure the skull.

It is a place where a sister 
used to be,
where she will always
used to be.



 Shape VII 

the shapes of things
come through space,
a ready presence
of permanence and
transience.

the shapes of things
crawl through time
like forms through fabric
and the memories become 
a soft geometry.



 Shapes: A Soft Geometry 
Nineteen years ago today my sister died. She had an unknown ticking time-bomb inside
her chest and it chose a Saturday morning in October, 1994 to go off. She was forty-two.
I was twenty-four. She was the oldest, and I was the youngest. She is no longer the
oldest but I am still the youngest. She was eighteen years older than I and I suppose that,
given the way the numbers fell, it would have been more appropriate, it would have made
more sense numerologically for me to write all this a year ago, but I guess I was still
not ready. I needed one more year. One year of semi-consistent, semi-solid writing to
get at this shape that has been staring at me from the shadows for all this time.

Every year since her death, the end of October has been dark. There is always a presence
of absence waiting there at the end of the month. Some years one tries to forget, to move
on. Some years, one accepts, and keeps quiet about the house. Some years one just
stares into the dark for a few weeks and then finds oneself on the other side, somehow
in November again.

A few months back, I had a strange dream. I do not often remember my dreams, and even
less often do they seem “real.” This time my sister was there. I felt the skin of her
face. I sensed her fragrance, still so distinct. I felt the loss of her more strongly
than I had allowed myself to ever feel while awake, for nineteen years. She was pregnant.
She was never able to have children in life and here she was, a very real ghost, very much
with child, hugging me over my own child who, in our own roundabout way, we had
named after her. This dream showed me how very real her memory is, how very fresh
old wounds can remain. This dream let me see the child of my self that I lost
nineteen years ago. This dream made me want, for the first time in a long time,
to really look at her death. To get to know it. Again. For the first time.

This soft geometry was finally ready to show its shape to me.



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4 thoughts on “The Shapes Cycle

    • Thank you Susan. So much. To hear that something I have written has generated genuine pathos in a reader is the greatest reward.
      This conversation that we were perhaps having without realizing we were having it (?!) has engendered another piece. I think it’s done. I’m going to stare at it for a little while longer. If it doesn’t tell me that it needs any other tweaks before midnight, I shall post it then. It will be the first “real” poem I have posted in months…too many months. So thank you for that as well!

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