Photo by Keith Moul.
“Beauty walks a razor’s edge, someday I’ll make it mine”
– Bob Dylan, Shelter from the Storm
Shelter first smelled of lemons and magnolias,
this was before I knew that danger would not stop
at scraping my knee against the pavement or my tongue
meeting the slender bone of the poached flounder.
That was years before I learned that sarcasm & disdain
would not deter that girl at that party from piercing
the bravery I gathered to ask her to dance that slow song.
I wish I knew then the old trees my grandmother planted
were an imperfect sanctuary but what does a sapling know
about the flaws of the elders in the garden.
I think we all have our own story, that moment
when harm charged toward us in an unfenced field,
whether it was an open city during the bombings
stormtroopers or other beasts dragging families away
or even the snide remark of an otherwise good teacher
when all I did was raise my hand and answer her question.
I guess, it’s only a guess, we all have a shelterless ground zero
that shaped our lives but did not prevent us from reliving.
Perhaps that’s why my mother could be so touchy
or my father began slowly to spend more time in his bed,
how come some friends fell into the abyss of their own brooding
and private citizens around the world point their automatic weapons
at the edge of their countries, and democracy can be so easily evicted.
Maybe that’s why I keep my thoughts close to my vest
and some insidious memories under my skin,
why the scent of lemons and magnolias
force my lips to form a smile in hard times,
why the long sigh,
why my poems welcome but fear certain visitations,
why my throat feels tight.