Release (poem)


Don’t be afraid, friend: it’s just my soul.
Take it–all of it! Have a great feast.
I’ve lived as a ghost with you and your brothers
while you’ve given just a ghost of your own soul.

But now, have mine. And every piece of it!
The mirror-shaped hard candies from third grade.
The girl pushing me on the tire swing after school.
The tears that fell when I sang out to Mary,
alone in the monastic orchards of Vina.

Savor it. Devour it.
For I already gave it in life.
So to see you take it in death is my honor,
to have powerlessness as a lesson
I will never reflect on again.

So take that thought, that trust, and that face:
eyes, letting go of judgment and suspicion,
mouth, silent to food and laughter,
hands, cold to gentleness and limp to friendship.
Take all that I ever was. Please, take it now.

Look into me while I live,
though my days are emptying out,
and see that my life has been little,
and that it accomplished even less.
We’ve seen more than words can ever tell.

So take me, and know–
that I am finally happy to die in you.
I could never grip. I could never hold.

All sweetness I’ve felt as a creature
is now a grain of sand on a beach,
dust that was bound by the ocean,
loosened, and washed over.

(c) 2016 Emma Gabriel


Alesha’s Reflection

She was there, walking by the shore, her blouse and loose-fitting pants were rustling with the evening wind. The Pacific crashed behind her, and the sun shone in her face. She thought to herself that she never had imagined sh would make it this far. From having neurotic fear of the nearest small city as a child, she had travelled all over the world by now, had lived in countless cities, had known so many lovers and lost friends. She thought back to so long a time she’d lived, always being one step ahead of some phantom that lurked around each of her efforts and dreams. Her days seemed, for the most part, mediocre, underexposed, unrecognized, and misunderstood. But was that just her own projection onto things?

For the life of her, she couldn’t understand how other people were never aware of some indefatigable drive native to her experience of the world around her. Alesha had always been driven academically, but never seemed to be in step with the other children’s social aims. For some time, she considered herself “antisocial” and something of a loner, but eventually found most of her sconsolation for a very lonely life in books, and not too many, either.

The chill of another possible vision crept along her thigh, threatening her peace of mind like a sprain would threaten her body. Truthfully, she had a disposition toward this kind of morbid ideation that placed herself in front of some ruined version of her own instigation.

Just like she had learned, and to her great displeasure, at first, to become dispassionate about how she felt toward doing certain things, and what came to her mind first was her intentional acts of charity; but her poverty wasn’t exactly intentional. Instead, she just never cared about money as much as children her age. At least, that’s how she portrayed the scenario to herself in this current state of rumination.

Self-reflection be damned. She was too pensive. But she still knew that some day, that phantom would catch her. She wasn’t sure what she would find… Krsna, the Lord who showed her dreams of whole universes in his lighted breath, or terrifying Kali, some specter that chills the blood, as London and Poe seemed to think? Maybe meeting God was like this, she imagined, her toes sinking aimlessly into the low-tide sands:

Like knowing the light behind all fire;
and having it pierce your entire flesh;
never growing tired, but only weary;
restlessly forging through the desert;
and on the way along, drying up;
slowly falling down, as a dance;
about to wind to its final machination;
but in the very end of all thinking;
when there is no longer any doubt;
regarding the weight of our cup;
to give away even our power over that;
finally dying enough to know truly;
that all was poured, to a drop, in us, perfectly.

Alesha congratualted herself on another great speech lost in the currents of the mind.

(c) Emma Gabriel 2016

Forgetting (poem)

Why did you leave us behind, blue-faced gem atop every spire of light we’ve ever dreaded to dance upon….

Why, oh why did you leave us yearning in the fields for you, Lord, forever?
As Radhaji beckoned to the Lord of seas and skies, weeping, your prayer of light never dimmed, Sanaka! Then watch them pray aarti without us, Rama, ever-distant lotus-haired, flowing power and singularity, dark universe to steal us away…

We sisters rejoice, as at your homecoming you blessed the gentle-hearted,
but only after you had been banished from our world.
Many shadows occupy the city that once knew you,
and we can only cherish the pearl you left behind.

We feel as though we never should have known your kiss.

[(c) Emma Gabriel 2016]

Speculum et Crux (poem)

The mirror and the cross, together, embodied and one,
living in glimpses of otherworldly beauty:
As a poet said, a maiden’s death is the sweetest.

But what of her birth, and what of his death?
Like a shadow more intriguing than its pillar,
I am colored by some boon, filled, lighted!

My likeness, a mere web, lingers in their thoughts,
while my breath, sounds swept up in the winds,
dances off my breast and into their hearts.

For all look into the other, but could it be conceit,
we ask our hero at Phrygia, before arrow-felled,
if his truth is simply more than most can bear?

Your name and person were adored, then rejected,
your wit and daring, mercurial, handsome, rich.
What is the real story to giving ourselves?

Each time needs a different turn,
a new step for its own age.

In your life, long past, the seas gave obeisance
to your command, and the bronze rim over your brow
proudly caught the evening sunlight
while long oars cut the waves beneath your ships.

Labor is devotion, Alcibiades: your companions
loved to give their fates to
such bright confidence that you exude.

Or would you just be held,
and let war stay oblivion, leagues away,
if only your gentleness had been won,
and guardian Athena had not been beaten,
and spared from the flame by fickle mercy.

“Not again,” is that what I should think?
For other powers scatter their nets,
the cloth is woven–but would it be conceit–
to be the most vulnerable as a price for
seeking human trust?

“Great love and great disappointment,” remarks one author
of a young St. Francis of Assisi’s
looming destiny.

So for all things, a season,
and for every time, a face,
and we are little more than castaways
on a mythic expedition.

And burning fiercely in the memories
of those who trust us, we remain,
rejoicing, just the way we lived.

(c) 2016 Emma Gabriel