Three Poems

by Lynn Strongin

No Lunatic Rush
but bird

like a war between the sexes
on hold during mealtime

the moon
washing each face
a death-check

picking out features
porcelain, scrubbed bone parchment eyelids lowering
having the final word

like a second language
one childhood ran off with in an asylum rush
a language a color lost in translation.

The Night Honey Flew Free

(Illuminations not lost in translation)

—turn the other cheek when your brother
hits you & your best friend tells fibs
nonresistance, or love Mennonite style
Di Brandt

            The very laces of your hiking boots
            illuminated (Tiresius)

Dig deeper.
Those slow-burning grudges like smudge-

pots lit under orange trees. Incapable of translation in Punjabi whatever the nightwind.

The frog piercing the Japanese cherrybloom weighs it, its metals green.

Marriage, after a long time, can become sacrifice, accommodation.

Icefolds brighten, then darken.

One comes upon the partner like an abandoned theme park.

Take your pick:
Buildings in slums of Spain      terrace hovering, wash pastel blowing offline.

Fueled loss
makes us all become masks, masks made transparent melting into bone.
Take your color from the ocean, Old Darling
reminding me of old schoolrooms      windows black eyes closed to bright noon.

Give me your color for safe-keeping
though I am no nurse. I have my own Gethsemane:
Blazing hospital aisles, spinal pain.
In crisis, let me know things.
Try Syrian:
A gas station is turned into a memorial overflowing with flowers:
a youth was run over & dragged to death: Gas & run.

Petrocan in Maple Ridge is closed.
Vigil. Dead pumps. Elegy.

Ethernets expanding.

Red uniforms are being smoothed for the Mounties, boots polished
in readiness to mourn the four Mounties gunned down. In a terror the same
in all translations.
Will day quarry woman from girl?
A quandary
     burns. Holy
     peace will be where the river of lambs flows: Over under like a rose.
     Peace when life in a fiery furnace draws all four corners to a close.
the four Mounties gunned down.

O my darling Clementine

     Thou art lost and gone forever (American ballad, 1946)

The hospital for stern babies shadows over     deep as mine-galleries now holding silver reflective water.     Katie needs expressing. This is the untranslatable language of sick children:
Chloe’s knees are  over-stretched, bent backward in rekovadum.

without frills
like a chocolate box     that hospital

a houseboat
takes the shine of moon.

The hospital
darks in.      Darkover comes:
a cake of soap graying by an iced pond.

Nova Scotia to New England.
Stoic, maternal      the atmosphere back home
Silver blacking around edges
the lost etching.

Government surplus
in the hospital kitchens:
(Homage bread baking.)