Thursday, December 18, 2008

How Are You?

It’s a long question. Then you say,
Well, it’s a short question with a long answer.

A bubble has burst,
the one inflated around you
and around all near you:
the bubble that you might
be able to lick this thing
that really no one licks,
just endures.

You apologize
for being bearer of bad news.
Such a perverse dynamic:
the sick, who are living it,
become caretakers of those
who must only listen to the news.

The bed is now downstairs.
(Sure sign, not lost on you,
but is it spoken aloud?)
I state stalwartly
I will re-up my letters.
I say you can read them
if you are so inclined,
disregard them if you choose.

I am always inclined to read your letters.

I say, I will come on Friday.
That I don’t care how miserable you are,
you needn’t apologize for having bad news.
Be as miserable as you like.

You laugh.
It has little breadth,
little breath.
That’s okay.
Sad, but okay.

(cc) Karen G. Johnston

Monday, December 1, 2008

Consider This Withered Apple

rusted crimson, leathered skin,
hanging by single stem,
rigid leaves turning to dust
at winter’s early claim.

There is nothing in this field
that will not tend toward decay.

Like the crooked orchard branches,
my finger nails curve to the right.
Echoing my great grandmother: sturdy lace,
corrupt disdain, early stroke, her cut crystal.

One of which I broke this past holiday --
lack of care, lack of grace
they intermingle, they muddle,
they conclude in cracked glass.

Lack of grace,
consistent thread in my life:
penchant for physical clumsiness,
tripping where there is no stone in the path.

It is exhausting to remember
that generosity and open heart
are still worthwhile in the face of rancid lies,
my own words turned against me.

Wintered-over properly --
sequestered in dry root cellar
or canned in speckled pot
atop steaming stove –

apples entice the tongue,
tart burst of wistful intrigue,
back one autumn, promise of next:
demise, opportunity, dense package

blossom, fruit, rot.

(cc) Karen G. Johnston