Poem for a Mother Taken
for Riccy Enriquez Perdomo
When I use the word taken
She was taken from her promise
She was taken from her children
She was taken by armed men
She was taken by her arms and held
She was taken, spirited from place to place
it sounds like the beat of her arms
against metal doors of a transport vehicle
(called Black Marias in other countries,
though maybe not black and definitely not
Virgin Mothers taken suddenly
in unexplained childbirth--or sisters of any kind
who take her into a marked unknown,
across wire thin borders where
here is home, there not home,
here received then taken,
there not wanted but received.)
She was taken by an illness of lonely terror
She was taken like a slip and fall into a pit
She was taken like a bullet for a cause
When I use the word taken
I mean they cut her out
I mean they tore her off
I mean they ripped her from our belly.
I mean she was taken from all of us.
Here is your hand.
The skin is thinning though still tough.
The veins and tendons are raised
like freeway interchanges on a prairie.
Here are the freckles mapped in youth,
and here the age spot that first appeared
you don't remember when.
Here are the pale Braille marks
of knife and burn and dog
that I can read with shut eyes
and tell your story--one story of many
that could be told of you.
If I turn your hand over,
though I am no gypsy,
I can watch myself
make my way across your palm,
up and down the pathways
So many near misses,
so many brushes with disaster.
Where will you find me, love,
someday, what will remain--
I am no gypsy,
but I think I see how this will end,
how I will finally be yours,
asleep above the earth
in a vast dream folded there.
Was it two coyotes I saw in the park?
Loping across the mown field
where we walk the dogs—
they turned to me without stopping,
to stare at me with yellow eyes,
a look that spoke real peril, if they chose it,
though soon the angle of our paths
forced them to turn away.
I was out that morning with a notebook
to gather words fallen beneath the trees
after a night of rain had bejeweled
every green thing. To see coyotes
so luminous, with such intent,
as if they were penitents bound on a journey
for absolution somewhere in suburbia—
Because I held my thumb between two pages,
stained with ink made watery with dew
a faint grey image of coyotes passed
across the page as across the field,
I scribbled beside the smudge:
This day has made us, as we have made
the terraqueous world for you--
look away from us, we were never here.
The Magic of a Poem
Lettery crumbs litter my shirt.
I'm on the bus eating poems from a bag.
They are soft and chewy like shrooms,
dried and salted lightly to taste.
The girl in the seat across from me
wants to try one, I can tell. I smile at her
and offer the bag, she reaches in
with a delicate pinching motion
and pulls out something by Pushkin;
bites right into it without hesitation.
Before long, Russian words are dripping
down her chin. She grins darkly,
tasting sorcery in the snowy trees.
Will Reger is a founding member of the CU (Champaign-Urbana) Poetry Group (cupoetry.com), has a Ph.D. from UIUC, teaches at Illinois State University in Normal, and has published most recently with Front Porch Review, Chiron Review, Paterson Literary Review, and Zingara Poetry Review (forthcoming). His first chapbook is Cruel with Eagles. He is found at https://twitter.com/wmreger -- or wandering in the woods playing his flute.