Marisa Siegel currently lives, writes, and edits near NYC but thinks twenty times a day about heading back west. Poems have appeared in print journals including Handsome and Zaum, and online at Foam:e, There, and elsewhere. She is Editor-in-Chief and owner of The Rumpus. Find her on Twitter at @marisasaystweet.
River, Cave, Bird
Who would blame a river for returning to its source.
Asleep, the cave opens but you hesitate to crawl over and into the passage. Asleep, you write a letter, explain why—special circumstances and leeway—and it will become a destination. Destined, dangerous cave hiding a wild letter, a plea against reason.
What would you do right now if you could take hold.
Keep thinking that it needs to be understood and knowing that this is impossible not because complicated or troubled but because there are only so many chances at understanding. Or if that understanding should scuttle behind the rocks, should be kept away.
When do you ask the bird to fix its own broken wing.
Surely the bird is older than the cave. The high-flying blue sky but also sunlight. A carrier pigeon would be how this story, this letter, is shared. A trusted bird, a rewritten letter, the letter that holds the all of it. A bird so trusted that it must not exist.
Where the fierceness lowers its defenses will you rise.
You keep breathing, mostly. You feel the incisions, both material and invisible, the air stirring underfoot. A certain amount of wildness, a wilderness of windswept dream and sharp perch. The letter left in a cave behind a rocky gate, and either it holds together or keeps apart.
Why would a bird make a river its home.
My son wants to know
Why I can’t control the rain, Mama
He says earnestly, is a boss.
And I feel responsible, as though
I’ve brought the rain and the sky
And all the world’s trouble
Into our safe blue kitchen.
My sister texts a photo
Of me, near in age to my son:
I see me but also him
and I am terrified, I know
I have been responsible
For all the world’s trouble
Since before I can remember.
I have brought rain and sky
Into other kitchens and I
Feel responsible, as though
Only myself, my unstable body
Keeps my son dry and safe
In our blue kitchen
As we stare at a photo
Of me but also of him.
Since before I can remember,
All the world’s trouble, a baby
Girl in a photo, who was responsible
For keeping safe a body.
I take control, and eschew the rain
Harness the sky, break
The sunlight, and walk away.