There's no Candy Land in heaven, don't worry,
      but there are donuts.
Glistening round and lightest brown
      with cracking sugar glaze,
Made by a little old granny
      in pink tennis shoes.
No, but that's not right —
      they were neutral and sturdy,
Nurse's shoes, your only shoes,
      and you were regular-size. Grandma-size.
With long gray hair wound in a bun,
      like dough ropes twined into shape,
Then white hair curled in a perm,
      sugar glazing, tight as donuts on a dowel.

I learned more about you in your obituary
      than what ever left your lips.
But maybe it did, so maybe I mean
      than what ever reached my ears.
I had small ears then,
      and they could take only so much.
So what they took was your gentle interest in my life,
      an easy introduction to yours.
The best way to keep apples from browning,
      the best sugar-water to attract hummingbirds.
The best way to stand so still and feed deer,
      and the electric way to keep them out of your garden.
And you read my favorite stories and played my boring games,
      and you let me dance among your ballerina fuchsias
And you let me pet the soft leaves of your African violets,
      and you cut open your aloe when I,
Clumsy as you were graceful,
      burned myself in your kitchen.

You were only Grandma to me,
      my world beginning and ending when I did,
And though I know what I knew was good,
      I know there was more than that.

That's why I suppose there's no Candy Land in heaven.
      But there must be a kitchen there,
And you can make donuts — when you wish —
      and lure us with sensual chocolate chip cookies
And tease our tongues with savory peanuty balls
      with crisp chocolate coating, bittersweet between teeth.
And you'll tell us your stories, all that makes you you,
      And we will eat it all up,
Licking sugar off of our lips.



A 50-year-old shouldn't die,
and if he can go, so can I,
      and so can you.
And I can do nothing but grieve in advance
and pull you back, grasping,
tearing your shirt on the way to the altar.

Can I be Abraham and not expect the ram?
Can I raise my knife and plunge,
not expecting a halting hand?
Plunge into my love, into my heart,
into my dearest joys.
Plunge into the beating heart of my man,
the beating heart of my son,
the beating heart of my dreams,
      plunge into me.
Can I allow lifeblood to pour
without hope of heaven or tourniquet?

But how can I restrain the flow of the tide?
How can I grasp the water of life?
Even clenched fists leak,
the water silently seeping
without our seeing
and when we open our hands to pour,
      it is gone.
Damp palms, cramped knuckles,
glistening with our loss.


Within the Wolf

Visiting grandchildren are
nothing but bad. This day
started with a wolf attack.

Squeaky demands dimmed
by the walls of muscle
and skin, by the humming of
blood through veins.
His voice rumbles in my
pressed-close ears, a father's
low and reassuring.

It's better to hear him than to see him,
much better.

So much waiting,
like the ticking of a clock,
the growling of a stomach,
and I don't know whether it's mine
or his.

The gentle squeezing of the womb,
the reassuring beating of a constant heart,
until the violence stops it.

They pull me out of my rolled position,
a girl's shaking hand
and a strong man's forceps grip.

A hunter, with red paws
and satisfied grin.

And I'm out, reborn
at the end of my life.

Sticky with birthing fluid,
I'm naked, and the air
around me chills.



I took the wrong bus,
the slow meanderer.
Two women talked
in the seat in front.
One studied English
because she loves to read.
One mastered German
to learn to speak.
And it was the two mes
debating the paths
I could have taken.
My two selves,
my two interests and loves.

But it's not me, is it?
Because it's not
all about me.
And these are
other women,
and this is not my route,
this not my bus.
I've gotten off.



I once heard a poem
about playing piano softly
and how that soft pedaling
defined the poet's life.
And I, in pianissimo practicing,
tucked into the living room,
not disturbing TV viewers
and novel readers,
children playing
and cats napping,
found the echoes of her poem
in my own soul,
my own narrow rejoicing.
I never asked for a copy,
so I can never hear it again,
soft strains in my memory,
an out-loud request too forte.

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