Monday, June 29, 2015

Meditations on the Flesh

On darker Sunday mornings when the walls
Of the old sanctuary are barely filled with an echo,
And they pass the plastic cup down through the fingers
Of the strangers in my pew, I reach out
And suck the holy grape juice into my cheek,
Wishing I could hold a whispering deity like that--
Like a warm velvet liquid that flows through my teeth
And forces swallowing.

In the evenings, darker still, after driving home
And brushing my teeth, I sink myself into you
With the expectation of tasting your flesh
Down the long lick of my body.
My body, the catacomb of spent pleasures,
Lies under the covers awaiting audience.
Under the hushed breath rush of our meeting,
With the dull panegyric pealing like new church bells,
I am wishing I could hold a breathing God like that--
Like a love that laces my palms full of holes
And gives warm flesh.

The dank empty dark of the lunar eclipse
Sends my hand in the arc of a half-moon
To your pillow, fingering for slivers of breath.
My palms come up satin-filled, unholy,
Gaping at the loss of something sacred.
Out with you- out- out with your memory,
Out with the taste of your flesh on my tongue,
Out with the draught of wine, out with the touch,
Out with the feeling that's under the skin.

But in the morning, I wake up with you
On my breath, with that suspended
Knowledge of things hoped for and half-touched.
The moon takes to a carrel to study the sun,
And I wonder what it is to hold out a hand
In the dark like a moon and to know
That the emptiness holds and intangible breath
That touches my blood, that touches my flesh,
That whispers blunt nails through the thick of my palms
Until I start to feel under my skin
That the catacomb is audienced
And a new song is ringing through the hollows.

I found this poem that I wrote in a very old journal from when I was a virgin and a teenager. It was one of those poems that just came to me as if from someone else, and I still don't feel as if it came from me as I read it, but I still like it. It's always charmed me with its strangeness.

Sunday, June 21, 2015


Each June, immigration lawyers from all over the United States make pilgrimages to whatever city our organization has located with a gargantuan enough conference center to accommodate three to four thousand of us as we shuttle from one ballroom to the next to listen to each other talk. We are as organized as an ant colony in our glassed-in rooms, with social and professional hierarchies to determine which ones of us warrant a microphone for an hour here or there. We go from room to room, reflecting back and forth our clients' experiences to one another, along with our insights, forming a consensus of best practices.

Between floors, between rooms, giant escalators ferry us around. I have a vivid mental image of a colleague now passed on, whom I saw riding up an escalator at one of these conferences the last year he attended. I had only ever interacted with him online and over the phone and had never met him in person. Yet we had become friends; we had a similar view of the world, and the practice of law. I had hoped to meet him at that conference but our paths never crossed. But there was one day when he was going up an escalator and I was going down the opposite one and I spotted him and, for whatever reason, I knew it was him. I just recognized in his body language something of the person whom I knew. I verified this later with a photograph. We never did meet before he left this world.

Ever since then I've been haunted with this sense of poetry about seeing my colleagues riding around on these escalators. There's something strangely ennobling about the posture people adopt as they arrest their forward motion momentarily to be carried from one floor to the next. It looks almost as if time has frozen for a minute and that the observer is able to watch those who are being carried along on the current of the machinery, somehow outside of time.

Thinking of my departed friend while watching those I know this week in the same posture did carry me outside of time, to his past, their future, the intersections of all of our timelines and the strange ways that the understanding we collect from each other informs our reality, the practice of our profession, our journey through life.

Saturday, June 20, 2015


Hello, Death, how are you?
It's so good of you to stop.
I'm sure you must be busy
Harvesting your crop.

For you to stop each night like this
And ask if I am ripe yet is
A little over-zealous.
You will make the ripe fruit jealous!

But who am I to judge?
I'm sure you really know your stuff.
Why don't you stay for dinner?
I can heat you up some left-overs.