Wednesday, May 19, 2010


By: Shelia Packa

how long have I been stone?

I align the salt and pepper
between the squares
of black and white at the table
as we separate
watch the geranium at the window
and the ice on the other side
grasp a cup
made from another’s hand
in the basement studio
watch love go
into the salty street
between the black iron fence
and white drifts
the dark
around the street lamp
watch the unknown negotiations
of hot and cold
of the old story and the new

think don’t look back—
like Lot’s wife—

how long have I been stone?

is it love if it can’t dance?
if it’s a system of measurement?

can love be an accident or a vision
or a piece of music
played by angels?

O to be saved by the angels

I climb the back of each string
each note pours a shaft of light
each note starts and stops my life
as I ride upon a light horse
an indigo and graphite and platinum
and leafy and sky horse
ride the sound of rails and nightfall
day break and the body,
the body, the body

one is made of wood
one is made of bone
one is made of light

O to die and live in a house of light

pass through inviolate
turn caution aside

leaving was an act of love
turning, an act of love

was there salt on the angel’s tongue
when she told me to leave?

did she shake the house

trembling the azaleas’ red petals
against the green stems and leaves?

every time I begin,
petals fall or leaves
I am leaving
or I’ve left or one is leaving me
or has left
we are leaving still
the edges brittle
some leaves are dead
some are green

what do you do without

what do you do with your lot?

what do you do without

how long can you be a stone?

the angel rubs the bow
against the strings to make a fire
sparks fly into the billows of electric
guitar, smoke rises
the cities are burning
she holds the strings down
on the other side
releases them
brings back fire from the ice
shadows come out of the trees
to feed Orion in the sky
she swallows the night
before she rises
the dark and salty night


I make my own way with the body
in confusion, in the wilderness
in the place of tangles and shadows
and fallen trees
up the hill
in the crossings
in the place of chairs and tables
on the maples paper
with a pen stroke
in the silence of anger or indifference
in joy
in music
in the cacophony
through the past
in a story among other stories
make my own way

without an axe clear a path
toward the light of angels
leave the vanity
and mirror
for another woman

taste the salt of tears on my face

where we were staying I didn’t want to stay

where we were going I didn’t want to go

look back
don’t look back

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