Out of hundreds of Iraqi girls in her Baghdad high school, she is the only one whose name means beautiful. This is how I learned one of only two words I’ve mastered in Arabic so far. The other is the word for avocado . . . which is avocado. Factoid: She loves guacamole. As host-mom for a month, you’d think I’d have picked up on a few other words, but mostly she wanted to know how I say things. So I said things. And I took her picture often–with her permission.
We covered figurative language as I unabashedly exposed my rabid disapproval of the Cheeto-Dusted Bloviator . . . Agent Orange . . . yes, him, the Assaulter-in-Chief in our White House. She was never entirely sure I should be talking like that about the president of this county. I think she would have changed the subject if she knew how . . . she was worried for my safety . . . she’s read terrible things about what happens to some Americans in this country.
Well, someone else can (and does) stick to the company line. I’m keeping it real on my watch, although we did cover a lot of other territory.
We fished for bluegill, savored ice cream, teeter-tottered, reburied some poorly-laid turtle eggs, nearly flew out of the speedboat jumping waves on Lake Michigan, and mutually crushed on Mena Massoud.
She showed me how to make dolmeh and gave me too many presents. I met her parents thanks to WhatsApp, and Yes, of course, I’m coming to see them all very soon after the Screaming Carrot Demon is voted out of office.
Soon enough, she’ll be back home. She has big plans that she’ll deliver on even when her parents choose her husband. She assures me she can say no. Well, don’t agree to anything until you kiss him . . . you won’t know everything you need to know without that, I tell her. She shakes her head vehemently . . . no no that cannot happen until after they’re married, and if she’s caught breaking that rule, her head can be cut off . . . or she could be shot in the head . . . headshot.
. . . this head
. . . this beautiful head and fine mind
Is she any safer here than she is there? Am I?
Every night I put my hand on this country,
It slips away from my fingers,
Like a soldier running from the front.
(from The Last Iraq by Fadhil al-Azzawi)
© by Leeanne Seaver, July 23, 2019
If you’ve driven from Denver to Kansas City, you know this place along I-70 near Russell, Kansas.
…and plenty of places like it.
South Haven, Michigan
It is a phenomenal thing to be paid to write books, and I am thankful every day for this. The business of book commissions and editing takes every ounce of my braingoo so I almost never have time to write in my own voice for my own reasons. But right in the midst of GTS’ing something for a project, this popped up… was 2016 really the the last time I even tried?
Thank you, #AutumnSkyPoetryDaily, for reminding me of the sound of my own voice.
I was trying to explain poetry to someone who is trying to understand . . .
THIS . . . THIS . . .
I wanted to see where beauty comes from
without you in the world, hauling my heart
across sixty acres of northeast meadow,
my pockets filling with flowers.
Then I remembered,
it’s you I miss in the brightness
and body of every living name:
rattlebox, yarrow, wild vetch.
You are the green wonder of June,
root and quasar, the thirst for salt.
When I finally understand that people fail
at love, what is left but cinquefoil, thistle,
the paper wings of the dragonfly
aeroplaning the soul with a sudden blue hilarity?
If I get the story right, desire is continuous,
equatorial. There is still so much
I want to know: what you believe
can never be removed from us,
what you dreamed on Walnut Street
in the unanswerable dark of your childhood,
learning pleasure on your own.
Tell me our story: are we impetuous,
are we kind to each other, do we surrender
to what the mind cannot think past?
Where is the evidence I will learn
to be good at loving?
The black dog orbits the horseshoe pond
for treefrogs in their plangent emergencies.
There are violet hills,
there is the covenant of duskbirds.
The moon comes over the mountain
like a big peach, and I want to tell you
what I couldn’t say the night we rushed
North, how I love the seriousness of your fingers
and the way you go into yourself,
calling my half-name like a secret.
I stand between taproot and treespire.
Here is the compass rose
to help me live through this.
Here are twelve ways of knowing
what blooms even in the blindness
of such longing. Yellow oxeye,
viper’s bugloss with its set of pink arms
pleading do not forget me.
We hunger for eloquence.
We measure the isopleths.
I am visiting my life with reckless plenitude.
The air is fragrant with tiny strawberries.
Fireflies turn on their electric wills:
an effulgence. Let me come back
whole, let me remember how to touch you
before it is too late.
– Stacie Cassarino, SUMMER SOLSTICE
The leeks I planted have gone to seed.
This pleases me to no end because that’s when they’re most photogenic.
That’s how my garden grows, and that’s also how writing goes. A thing gets planted . . . but it often produces a different yet related outcome . . . like somewhere along the way, the question I was asking changed because of the answer that appeared.