(w)rite by the river

wimmin’s words from the SAGA sessions at wynne’s
august 2006,
with gratitude

from this week i take

rivers, mountains, loaded guns, lampshades
and one dim bulb
frou-frou little foreigners and
wide-eyed jewish sisters
seeking shelter
hope and little green apples
joy harjo and joan baez
three matches
a wedding dress from a junk store
a cat named tessa
green & yellow john deeres
& the knowledge that you won’t hurt yourself
if you fall while wearing turquoise

from this week i take

jane kenyan, jane hirschfield, bell hooks
bare feet / green eyes
talcum powder cigarettes
skin / teeth / bone / eyes / skin / toes / lips / skin / hair
the crown of sagittarius
a trail of tears
madness and wholeness and
wet naps

italy / the aegean sea / connecticut
liverpool / california / carcajou
a coven of mothers
a squeak and full crunch
the scent of lemons
black cow nostrils
sweet cherries, yacht club beans
too much caffeine, not enough sleep
dreams and lies and riverdale air

from this week i take

lace and handmade buttons
unclaimed luggage
unacceptable women
sad nipples and purple bras
fringed leather belts
a portrait of a bird
the drone of unnamed bombs
glass shards
horses, i take some horses

from the words drifting out onto the veranda i take

short quick steps
happy little girls running shirtless
grandmothers, granddaughters, uncles, priests
gloria podesta. lyla doris macadam lee.
shasta avenue. lefthanded canyon. lickskillet road.
i take six elephants
and a red hat
cool wine, white, gently placed pearls
golden strands, cross-stitched

i take the dear ordinary
the memory extraordinary
and a magnificent


memory bank


i cannot remember any of my mother’s native tongue
my father’s favourite tie
or my sister’s reasons for hoarding

i cannot remember what i had for breakfast
or anything you may have said
the morning after we got married

i cannot remember when i stopped playing the piano
or when i started letting myself go

i cannot remember all the lies i’ve told
or why men make war

i cannot remember what might cause women
to judge, invalidate, shun, erase, shame, oppress,
brutalize, condemn, injure or kill the spirit of
other women

i cannot remember if there’s a difference
between guilt and regret
but i can remember the words to every top 40 song
i heard on the radio
when i was thirteen

i cannot remember when i started writing
why i sent the artist away for 25 years
why helicopters scare me
but i remember peeing my pants
on the first day of kindergarten

i cannot remember the names of the apostles
where i left my sunglasses
or when to change the brita filter

i can’t remember to take my calcium supplements
to phone about the eavestroughs
to clean out the ring in the bathtub
or what i was looking for five minutes ago

sometimes it’s enough just to remember my own blessed eyes
my broken feet
and the hand that holds the pen
to remember that i am alive
to remember that i am loved
to remember to laugh

sometimes it’s enough just to remember
to breathe