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The Tribal Knot

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Invocation


Even Christ at the end called out in holy terror,
Let this cup  (the sky is silent),
then looked to his right and left, grateful
for any company, thief or murderer.
Forgive them for they know (a shadow passes over).

                          *

A girl on a table, splayed
between strangers. Cold instruments
clamping, a nurse squeezing her hand. 
She might have cried, Son or Daughter,
knowing not what she did, but all that came
from her mouth was Mother,  the rest
rushing nameless into the waiting basin.

                           *

The kamikaze whose name was never called
tells it to the camera: We were trained,
to cry out to the emperor at the end.
I thought I might call  Father, but it is hard
to cry  Father when you are dying.
I remembered a geisha I had loved,
thinking when the time came
I would call her name, Misaka.                         

                           *                    

When the old man in his last moment surfaced
from the morphine, callingMom
like some fevered child, his daughter
rose from the cot and stumbled toward him.      
                                                                                       
                          *
A long ago lover once made me swear   
I would hurry to him in his last hour,         
no matter where or when.    
His name is lost, but not the press
of his arm pulling me toward the promise,       
insisting, There’s nobody else.

                          *
     
My dying aunt called simply, Somebody--
and a janitor sweeping the corridor
outside her room, answered.


From Deep Light: New and Selected Poems
Invocation
More Poems on Loss, Grief and Healing

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