H e a r t   S o n s   &   H e a r t   D a u g h t e r s   of   A l l e n   G i n s b e r g

N a p a l m   H e a l t h   S p a :   R e p o r t   2 0 1 4 :   A r c h i v e s   E d i t i o n








I see my parents still

wailing in the living room Argentina Street, 

a grey day, no wind  & out the window traffic flashing past––Aunt Fran's

husband & son Dutch, my older cousin who'd

filled his room with electronics, a genius at 13, killed,

accident in the Rockies,

& she in a hospital, her arm broken––my first

memory of lives, faces swept away from my life––

later, when the sun broke thru,

wonder where we go––I was six––


& after that, Dutch's oak furniture arrived,

his bed to be my bed, his mirror where my face

would stare back, sigh & dream of love––

& Fran, recovered, circled the world alone, sent me

coins from England, Austria, Egypt, Japan,

mysterious envelopes that arrived in the mail

worlds beyond my suburban sidewalks

& mystery gardens where I'd pause

before an open rose & lose a day in dreams––


later, her house burned & she escaped

miraculously, settled & worked in Maryland

as my parents' marriage cracked up,

grandpa died, I raged at fallen love & lost my heart

until, lost, child, I found myself in Sue

& found my father again & heard

my long-lost grandma's sighs & sorrows,

Fran the oldest child who'd seen more

& kept herself apart, learned to be alone––

& after that, after the loss & the fire & years apart,

met her Hale & danced in her 70s like

a teenager, a few years without pain––

a few years blooming in the fullness of her womanhood––


who guesses how much we can know even of those

nearest us, how others cope & sing above their suffering?

she'd refuse a funeral, would

go home to lie with her Hale––

these last months

awaiting an end that now comes swiftly––& I, learning of it,

sit with my sisters & my family, my 50th birthday

stilled with this quiet moment filled with her life,

flocks of birds wheeling in slow motion, hovering around

the feeder in winter snow––   



[Originally published in NHS 1998, http://www.poetspath.com/napalm/nhs98/cope.html.]