Friday, May 16, 2008

Redemption Song

For my grandmother

They will see me, you say, as I undo your sari.
You speak of the silhouettes dancing
in their glass cage:
charming men with salty accents and lace-less shoes,
women fragrant with wild poppies
and feverish dreams.
You can see them, they can’t see you,
I say, but I hear
your sudden and pitiful weeping.

I silence their eyes.

I’m ready, you say.

You are resplendent
in a hibiscus sari and peacock-blue bathroom slippers.
In your hands a ragged bundle,
enclosed by a towel and a safety pin:
old petticoats; a half finished bottle of sherry;
a plastic crucifix;
and the preacher’s tattered Bible, your father’s,
that now bears the faded picture of your child,
my mother,
pressed into the Book of Psalms.
A crushed rose at chapter sixty-three.

She reminds me of God’s kindness, you once said,
and that glorious night with your grandpa,
you added with a wink.
God bless him.

You no longer remember his name,
but you can summon his presence at will:
moonlight spilling off his rough shoulders;
the scent of summer nights
and revolution warm on his limbs;
your humble room filled
with misty songs of dreamers,
and sweet-breathed rebels.

I’m ready, you say.

I remember that one night,
your startled voice fracturing the darkness
I thought you had fallen,
but you were singing those verses
marked by my mother’s countenance,
a plea,
a wounded whimper in the fading light.

Didn’t you hear me, darling?
Where are you off to, I ask.

This is your home.

Yet you speak of coconut trees,
and worlds stilled in green waters,
kisses blown on crooked bridges,
and fishes roasting over open fires…

I am home, home at last.

You sit on a bamboo bench,
your hair abandoned on your shoulders.
In the powdery light of dawn
your cheek gathers the shadow of leaves,
your voice a ribbon trailing in the breeze.

O God, thou art my God,
early will I seek thee,
my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land
where no water is;
to see thy power and thy glory,
so as I have seen thee in the sanctuary.
Because thy loving kindness is better than life,
my lips shall praise thee.
Thus will I bless thee
while I live:
I will lift up my hands in thy name.

Glory be to God.

You are home,
home at last.

No comments: