Nap alm†††† Health†††† Spa:†††† Report†††† 2007

 

 

SHIRA SEGAL

 

 

all the women in the world have mothers who have birthed them

 

 

my mother's mother's

 

cuba is my grandfather's grave

 

is my great grandfather's murder

 

is my great grandmother's new york staircase of protest

 

saying Don't Leave Me Alone, You're Too Young To Marry

 

and he married

 

he asked her to marry him

 

and she didn't quite say yes

 

and so he cried

 

and because she couldn't stand to see him cry

 

she said yes and they were married

 

my grandmother's new york city

 

is their dollar breakfast corner mornings

 

a rooftopa staircase mother's yella cigarette

 

a cigarette until there was no more

 

and then they burst into generations

 

and I am their generations

 

to come

 

 

 

 

bird poem

after Jolie Holland

 

 

the littlest birds make the prettiest sounds

 

the littlest birds make the prettiest sounds

 

the littlest birds make the prettiest sounds

 

the littlest birds make the prettiest sounds

 

fall apart crumble into each other

 

a root digs an open aspen grove family

 

of all of the leaves of all of our wantings

 

all of our empty hands empty

 

I look for your invisible trickle

 

in this empty open palm of mine

 

I let you go so you can return

 

and all I can wish for

 

to still be here

 

for you to return to

 

the littlest birds make the prettiest sounds

 

the littlest birds make the prettiest sounds

 

it is true: I am closer to the woman I'll be at 30

 

than I am to the girl I was at 16

 

wondering if the baby I was at 6 would be proud

 

and now with London under my sleep

 

and my own hands under my longing

 

I see Saturn return Saturn rising

 

I am the deer that carries your arrow but never dies

 

and the Great Secret of us almost undone

 

the littlest birds make the prettiest sounds

 

the littlest birds make the prettiest sounds

 

I don't see us in cities but a forest  (the littlest birds)

 

a lake, something green, birds, hail storm (make the prettiest sounds)

 

worms, something soft pressed into (the littlest birds)

 

an enormous sky and my soft quiet sleep of open (make the prettiest sounds)

 

your wetness (the littlest birds) eyelashes raining (make the prettiest sounds)

 

a closeness beyond (the littlest birds)

 

wet breath beyond our names (make the prettiest sounds)

 

and my useless words (the littlest birds make the prettiest sounds)

 

 

the littlest birds make the prettiest sounds

 

the littlest birds make the prettiest sounds

 

the littlest birds make the prettiest sounds

 

the littlest birds make the prettiest sounds

 

 

 

 

where I once poured milk I now pour water

 

 

it is true

 

no itch lasts forever

 

yet thereís an otter living in my throat

 

and only recently did I learn its name

 

only recently did I say hello properly

 

with attention awareness and space

 

all the space that you used to occupy

 

is now filled with itself and all thatís left

 

is an itch but it is true

 

no itch lasts forever

 

it is up to you

 

no one can do it for you

 

to see whatís under the itch

 

whatís under the ache of space

 

a delicious pebble that isnít a pebble at all

 

but your heart

 

when asked where he came from

 

he replied Your Heart and then I learned to sing to Jesus

 

the great imaginary friend of all my ever after itches

 

because for the first time I realized

 

Iím stronger than a Jesus song

 

and this is still my throat

 

filled with Sanskrit otters

 

this is still my Jewish throat

 

filled with Green Tara otters

 

this is still my great unholy itch of throat

 

that no one can speak from but me

 

it is up to me to tell you hello properly

 

even if you itch

 

even if you wanted water instead of milk

 

but all I have is an otter

 

living in my throat

 

 

 

 

IF YOU CAN'T SAY IT, YOU CAN'T WHISTLE IT EITHER

FOR STAN BRAKHAGE

 

 

be brave be lonely be unique: you say

 

you say: if it inspires you it inspires you to be your unique self

 

and because of you I am now more myself than imagined

 

I am in the junk heap of history

 

with Jack Nicholson who is tiny in person

 

and Buster Keaton who is not so tall

 

and the lead is killing the artists

 

but we are survivors here

 

you are my teacher here

 

I have followed you

 

 

you say:

 

thank god we never voted for Nixon

 

thank god art is based on truth

 

that there are no two people alike anywhere

 

that our cells are like snowflakes are like Gertrude Stein

 

and we read between the lines dance between the lines

 

where peripheral vision is our only chance of survival

 

we are surviving on brain drunk and kindness

 

and the hypnagogic vision in my right eye is fading

 

we laugh when we're beyond screaming when there's nothing left to do

 

and so you teach in this mind field

 

and here you have helped people stay alive

 

here we have come to be with you

 

 

it is true:

 

poets when not writing poems

 

are more boring than most people

 

and if you're broken hearted you can become a poet suddenly

 

but be brave be lonely be unique anyway: you say

 

 

you say:

 

life is so wonderful

 

if you just don't demand the impossible of it:

 

that things should be forever

 

most people may not be heroes

 

but if I had a hero

 

you would be my lonesome grandpa guru

 

sitting in the aisle seat of a theatre

 

laughing loudly and not caring

 

laughing instead of screaming instead of sleeping

 

 

 

I wish you a happy awakening

 

where you don't need to write down those dreams

 

where magic markers are just as good as paint

 

and all your pockets are filled with poems

 

 

 

 

unblinking

 

the sound of my mother

this bed and me never being quiet enough

is the same sound of cars stopping

and thirty women sleep moaning

in one large nightmare dreamed by each other

because none of us can figure it out on our own

 

i can't take the swami seriously anymore

his yellow walled orange covered laughter

at the feet of statue and photograph

of the swami's swami

and the swami's swami's swami

and the once upon a time beach of flower

and kindness and skins of animals to sit on

 

once i believed that every time i closed my eyes

my ancestors could see me every blink and sleep

they could watch me in sometimes appearing only for a moment

other times and when kissing they'd see me for hours

but since then i've learned to look my kissing lovers eyes open

i've learned to see something there

to blink as little as possible

 

when asked why the picture of her daughter is three years old

the photographer replied Because I Don't Want To Put Anything Between Us

 

when asked about refuge

the yellow replied Only My Guru's Feet

but my feet are everywhere

and my teachers are human

my rabbis are rude

and my mother's quiet afternoon bed

is me never quiet enough

to hear the things she doesn't tell me

and i am never quiet enough

to hear the things they want from me

 

i want expansion warmth and my nine year old mind of giving

turning dandelions into tea and weeds into dream spirits

of israeli hotel pillows and my abuelita singing Lean On Me

when walking while walking my summer mind of never ending

and my sister: grandmother watched between piano and rock, always leaving

my sister crying cobblestone of israel and reunion sobbing

my sister once upon a time telluride and midnight smoking the rain in stoner

and the girl gone hippy the quiche and the restaurant and me never sleeping

i believed that china dolls would eat me

and spoke to a cousin who ten years later would refuse to greet me

and now i'm further from myself than i am from that summer

but i know how to say Yes more often

that saying No to one thing is saying Yes to everything else

that lying to another is stealing from myself

that pretending is killing is opposite wealth

and yet i pretend all the time

 

is it true? fake it 'till i make it

is it true? wishes are manifestation

is it true? you are not my happiness

but a mirror for me to see my own bliss

yellow colored and tickling

 

i want us laughing curled and kissing

with all our ancestors watching

i want them to know us here

as survivors who love out loud

and are quiet enough to know

if the rabbi is right

if the guru is accurate

if the swami is laughing

and all of our mothers

have something to say

 

i am six

you are eight

and my wish for you is that it is warm and expanding

that you will be warm and expanding

that this is warm and expanding and calm

that what is known is not pretended

it is yours and complete and crinkling

 

my wish for us is turtle plant yellow window opening

square bed shape of cloud and spiral

white cloth india and sky bound

something moving and

yellow shining

 

my wish for me

is small and hopeful

quietly mine and all of it giving

to the twenty years later that is now

the sound of cars stopping

and quiet unending

 

i kiss you

 

you are the ground

you say You Are My Life

i say Yes and Look it is quiet unending

a dragon appearing my wish my wish

giving material to my own bright intention

my wish my mother my sister and grandmothers

my closed eye ancestors and unquiet

my kissing my mirror my wish

none of us quiet

all of us growing

the bed the car

the wish

 

and unfolding