three encounters with cosmos your wine-stained lips whisper against our hips as we wade deeply through you and quiet wind past the Tamagawa River beside vermillion Torii gates uncut, untethered fall lurks on the horizon waiting to catch us we walk straight stems together shooting to stalks in my garden your scattered seeds circle back my son pulls my pant leg offers me your face plucked from the soil too soon he smiles up at me I take your beauty in both hands inhale freshly churned clay on your petals bend down and kiss his head sleepless, shredding tissues you appear to me pressed between the pages of her journal leaves delicate as dill purple fringes collar your skull a garland her grounded message she has left traces of herself through you your name is the size of the universe
Rwandan Day of Remembrance —a san-san On the screen, soldiers drive jeeps along the roadside shoes detached from tall slender bodies by long knives called machetes even in Kigali, the center of an abandoned world. Tall slender bodies of Tutsis slaughtered by long-knived Hutus along roadsides, shoes and clothing scattered along with heads and lives. Documentary finished, I return in the car with the tall slender body of my teen to the tribalism decorating his bedroom—tiger hook swords, sneaker brands and a flag, unfurled. Anyone is capable. The roadside shoes, the long knives are ours. I can’t unsee what has been seen.
Amy Baskin’s is featured in Friends Journal, Every Pigeon, apt,and more. She was a 2016 Willamette Writers Kay Snow Poetry Award recipient for her poem “About Face.” She has participated in generative groups with Jenn Givhan, Allison Joseph, Paulann Petersen,and Renee Watson. Amy works to help international students at Lewis & Clark College feel welcome and at home during their stay.