Mike Madriaga 11:30 a.m., Aug. 19
There must be better ways than saying “no”
Three poems by Rachel Hadas
- Each dawn is an amazement.
- From the subterranean corridors of night,
- my slippery crags and sucking mudslides,
- desperate scrambles, floundering through snow,
- wallowing waist-deep through murky waters.
- Your maze of unlit streets, criss-crossing freeways,
- cars locked in black garages underground:
- our separate struggles to get from one place to another.
- From these stale quests we wake to morning light
- and one another. There cannot be enough
- of these golden dawns.
- Each day is an addition and subtraction.
- Is life designed to lure us or to wean us?
- Were we intended to be so voracious?
- Mornings, mornings: days, weeks, months, and years.
- Astonishment may be softening into habit,
- and I bless habit and I bless routine.
- But I am still surprised by joy each morning
- when I wake next to you.
- I looked so hard for the answer
- it seemed better to stop looking.
- The geese are flying. Omens swerve past in the sky
- when we’re not paying attention.
- “Best practice” was the phrase I heard myself using
- when I turned down an innocent request:
- “It isn’t the best practice.”
- I may have misused the phrase, which I had borrowed.
- How else does one learn language?
- There must be better ways than saying No.
- The geese are flying,
- oracles at an angle in the sky.
Head of the Table
- Not too long after my father died,
- I began to forget him in motion.
- I did retain a picture of him sitting
- at the head of the table. Writing? No.
- He must have written his books in his locked office.
- Once each book was lost done, my mother
- went down on her hands and knees on the living room rug
- and sorted index cards. My father sat
- at the head of the table and bounced me on his knee.
- He was a toaster, I was a slice of bread.
- He popped me up and buttered me all over.
- The last page of “Walden” tells of a “strong and beautiful bug”
- emerging from the “leaf of an old table
- which had stood in a farmer’s kitchen for sixty years.
- What beautiful and winged life,” asks Thoreau,
- “may unexpectedly come forth?”
- A memory I thought had taken flight
- has fluttered back to the table where it was born
- where I now sit and write.