41.

 

Should you put

the fingerling goldfish

in a tiny glass bowl

on the table

it would remain tiny

and swim its life away

going in circles.

Put in a big pond

it would continue to grow

until it was awesome in size.

 

Are we, too,

limited by the walls

of the container?

Were our pond the universe . . .?

 

 

The Temple

 

This temple

has no walls

no halls

 

no congregants.

But in this sacred no-place

where I find myself

I find my Self.

 

Sometimes it frightens me.

Learning to live

in this space

means one must be prepared

to know

more than one is comfortable

knowing.

 

3.

 

When I was five

Margie Gahn said

I was not g r a c ef u I enough

to be in her dancing class

but I should WATCH.

 

I thought I was pretty good.

 

When I was nine

Miss Laughinghouse said

I was not t u n ef u I enough

to be in her singing class

and I must LISTEN.

 

I thought I was pretty good.

 

When I was forty-seven

Pearl Levine said Iwas not evolved enough

to be in her consciousness raising group

but I might AUDIT.

 

I thought I was pretty good.

 

If they had said

come dance with us—

come sing with us—

come grow with us—

 

Ooooooooohhhhhhhh

What a difference!

 

 

 

9.

 

Let us say grace:

 

By what miracle

Does this cracker

Made from Kansas wheat,

This cheese ripened in French caves,

This fig, grown and dried near Ephesus,

Turn into me?

 

My eyes,

My hands,

My cells, organs, juices, thoughts?

 

Am I not then

Kansas wheat

And French cheese

And Smyrna figs?

Figs, no doubt,

The ancient Prophets ate!

 

 

Generations

 

Grandma at forty-five—

had six children and one on the way,

wore a tatty brown wig

over waist-long crystal-black hair,

had a studious husband

to whom she never spoke, never!

sold fish wrapped in newspapers,

down on the lower east side,

had a couple of words in English

and for fun

wrote little jiggly Yiddish rhymes.

 

Mother at forty-five—

had three pretty good kids,

a sick stay-at-home husband

with whom she quarrelled

only behind closed doors

after 3 a.m.; wore

a sleek mannish bob,

distinguished for its

elegant (like her) silver streak;

had a love affair with words;

you'd never know she left school

after eighth grade to go to work.

She filled a dozen cabinets

with journal notes

to be destroyed upon her death,

and hid a couple of really fine poems

in the bottom drawer.

 

I at forty-five—

had pouffy hair

dyed several shades of gold,

two children

for whom I quit my job in radio

as "good moms" did

in that benighted time,

a gracious spouse

with whom I did not fight,

but to whom

I cried a lot

before I learned the art

of give-at-least-as-much-as-get,

volunteered in politics,

studied acting, wrote some plays,

discovered self-creation workshops,

and wrote poems like this.

 

My girl-child, now at forty-five—

looks maybe twenty-nine,

has real born-with yellow hair,

cut short post-modern style,

has a partner

with whom she shares three domiciles,

 

four cats;

practices the law

in courtrooms,

and for refreshment

climbs rocks

roller blades

scuba dives

runs, swims, piano plays,

but if she's writing poetry

I haven't heard.