Poem of the Week, by Danusha Laméris

Once, a friend and I sat on a long and deserted stretch of sand. This was on the Forgotten Coast of Florida, and it was late, and the sky twinkled overhead. My friend gasped and pointed at a shooting star.

Oh my God, she whispered. I’ve never seen one before.

I, who had seen many, stayed silent in the face of her enchantment. Another star melted down the sky, and another. My friend was speechless now, and so was I. Her wonder made shooting stars new for me again.

Pigeons, by Danusha Laméris

Because they crowd the corner
of every city street,
because they are the color
of sullied steel,
because they scavenge,
eating every last crust,
we do not favor them.

They raise their young
huddled under awnings
above the liquor store

circle our feet, pecking at crumbs
pace the sidewalk
with that familiar strut.

None will ever attain greatness.
Though every once in a while
in a tourist’s blurry snapshot
of a grand cathedral

they rise into the pale gray sky
all at once.

Click here for more information about the wondrous Danusha Laméris.

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Poem of the Week, by Danusha Lameris

Screen Shot 2020-01-13 at 7.55.08 AMEverything physical, everything specific: the sharp scent of the woods that night in the Adirondacks when the rain drummed down on the canvas tent. The cold clear water that dazzled your body when you plummeted from the rope swing. The softness of the loam under your boots that cold dawn hike in Vermont.

How free it feels to dance alone late at night in your dark living room. How his hand over yours felt that day on the train when you were too full of feelings to talk. How rough and full of sun the cotton sheets dried outside feel when you slide between them.

Sometimes you imagine the moment you’ll leave this physical world, and in those moments it’s these sensations that wash over you. You think, this is what I’ll miss most. Being alive in a wild animal body in a wild animal world.

 

Bird, by Danusha Lameris

We were sitting on the couch in the dark
talking about first pets, when I told him how,
as a girl, I kept a blue and white parakeet I let
fly around the house and, sometimes, outside,
where he’d land on the branches of pine
and eucalyptus, balancing between seedpods
and spines. Only, while I was telling it,
my companion began to stroke, very lightly,
the indent of my palm, the way you do when you’re
sitting in the dark with someone you’ve never kissed
but have thought about kissing. And I told him
how my bird would sit on a high branch and sing,
loudly, at the wonder of it—the whole, green world—
while he traced the inside of my arm with his fingers,
opening another world of greenery and vines,
twisting toward the sun. I loved that bird for his singing,
and also for the way his small body, lifted skyward,
made my life larger. And then it was lip-to-lip,
a bramble, and it was hard to say who was who—
thumb to cheek to chest. The whole ravening.
When I told him I did not clip my bird’s wings,
I was talking about hunger. When he pressed me
hard against the back of the couch, named a litany
of things he’d do to me, I wanted them all.
I, too, have loved to live in a body. To feel the way
it lifts up the octaves of sky, cells spiraling
through smoke and mist, cumulus and stratus,
into that wild blue. And though I knew
there was always a hawk somewhere in the shadows
ready to snatch his heart in its claws, still,
I couldn’t help letting that parakeet free.

 

 

For more information on Danusha Lameris, please check out her website.

 

 

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Poem of the Week, by Danusha Lameris

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Hundreds of miles into a long drive after a sleepless night, I pulled over to get a cup of coffee at a convenience store with exhaustingly computerized coffee machines. A leathery man watching me try to program a cup of half-decaf laughed, then showed me how to do it.

Pretty good for a guy who doesn’t own a computer, a cell phone, or a credit card, right? he said. We stood talking about how the internet has changed everything. Like this right here, he said, this conversation. Everyone walks along staring down at their phones. Can’t we talk with each other anymore? 

I’ll never see that man again. I don’t know how he voted in the last election or how he will vote next year. When I drove away I thought of this poem.

 

Small Kindnesses, by Danusha Lameris

I’ve been thinking about the way, when you walk
down a crowded aisle, people pull in their legs
to let you by. Or how strangers still say “bless you”
when someone sneezes, a leftover

from the Bubonic plague. “Don’t die,” we are saying.
And sometimes, when you spill lemons
from your grocery bag, someone else will help you
pick them up. Mostly, we don’t want to harm each other.

We want to be handed our cup of coffee hot,
and to say thank you to the person handing it. To smile
at them and for them to smile back. For the waitress
to call us honey when she sets down the bowl of clam chowder,
and for the driver in the red pick-up truck to let us pass.

We have so little of each other, now. So far
from tribe and fire. Only these brief moments of exchange.
What if they are the true dwelling of the holy, these
fleeting temples we make together when we say, “Here,
have my seat,” “Go ahead—you first,” “I like your hat.”

 

 

​For more information on Danusha Lameris, please check out her website.​

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