Saturday, February 01, 2014

Poem for Amalia

Today would be Amalia's sixth birthday. It's been hard for me to write or talk about her short life and death, but I finally finished the poem I started for her five years ago. As one of the lines says, "Grief mutes/but I (still) speak to her."

Each thought of her
an invitation
to cross
the bridge over the river,
an arch over an abyss,
a concrete thread over
the ashes of my daughter: ivory
and turquoise, glistening in the stream,
swaying against
heart-shaped rocks,
inching their way slowly
towards the Columbia, the Pacific.

My girl in the river.
Her dust swallowed up among the fish,
the moss, the grasses, and sticks,
the water insects, when close up, bigger
than the valley hem made of jagged mountain peaks.

My girl in the river and the sky.
The river's name, the Seeker.
Her name, Hard Work.
Hard work to stay alive.

We sang to lure her back,
--mama a teta, two sister-mermaids--
songs to bring her home,
summoning the onion sellers, the shepherds,
the dove, the cat, the dog
to help whisk her
away from machines that beeped,
strangers in scrubs, tubes penetrating wrists.
Home to a wash of chamomile,
warm cotton,
skin on skin.

Grief mutes,
but I speak to her
greeting her there on that bridge
as fast as one breath in and out
over the water-filled wound in the earth,
warm vapor rising.

Amalia: deep down in the water,
burnt bones. Such beautiful burnt bones.