659: soiree

659: soiree

659: soiree


I’m Ada Limón and this is The Slowdown.

I’m not sure if I believe in aloneness. As I say this, I have been alone quite a bit. But still, it’s not like we’re ever really alone, not if there’s some nature around us, some ghosts, a few plants inside, and in the backyard. Those root systems are connected to me now. The purple-black starling making his way through the rain soaked purple dead nettle on the back lawn, isn’t he a part of my community?

If I don’t believe in aloneness, I do believe in distance. The distance between us can create a tension, a longing, and become an almost palpable rope that tugs at those of us who are connected but separated by time or space. Still, the earth is between us, the physical distance is made up by the earth. And through all that green and rivers and oceans and living things, even distance is alive somehow.

How odd that we think it’s roads and wires that connect us. When really, it is the earth itself.

Today’s poem is an honoring of the earth and its abundance. I love how this poem is not only about the living things that surround us but the ancestors who are with us even if they are no longer physically here.

by caroline sinavaiana-gabbard

						                        	for J.J. Wilson & Mama Day

an alchemy of distance:
your absence, sisters, stirs longing
your telephone talk/ raking
embers from the muses’s fire.
the spirit rises to the task, &
I from the couch/ awake now
to take up the story
where the last daughter left off/
giving voice to the silence/ inside
green mountains looming/ from a warm sea
& voice/ to the insides
of calderas/ cooled volcano’s tilted cup
half-sunken to carve harbor from expanse of ocean

giving witness
to the chatter of fruit-bats
          sucking papaya seeds from their teeth
          in the tree outside my door
to amorous geckoes flapping splayed toes across
          window glass louvers/ out on roach patrol together?
          grabbing some gecko nookie in the odd moment?
          (but oh, I forget my manners!)
to the sound of waves soughing behind drunken guitars
          down by the store/ an occasional taxi rattling its
          hubcaps over the roadway between here & the sea.
tutuila island, saturday night, alone at my desk &
the party’s in full swing,
ceiling fan whistling lightly/ & round
muffled barking from dogs in the next village east.
a solitude redolent of women’s spiraling
talk & deepening mysteries/ your sweet voices
blaze from the pages of books/ &
the hand-written lines of letters/ our conversation
burns its winding way/ over miles of ocean &
aeons of yellow hills & rocky ledges/ that arabesque
of hearts & joined limbs of spirit.
consorts revel in the glowing quiet
of the solitary study & draw me out
again/ into the wide air/ the opening dark
to mingle w/ ancestors & the scent of wild plumeria
to cut a rug in the tropical december night
to sip ginger tea/ & toast our starry confluence
across the galaxy of this moment.

"soiree" by caroline sinavaiana-gabbard from ALCHEMIES OF DISTANCE © 2002 caroline sinavaiana-gabbard. Used by permission of caroline sinavaiana-gabbard.