My mother singing “Tora Lora Lora,”
the Irish lullaby even though we were Brooklyn Jews.
The vacuum on the shag carpet. The singular birch
shaking over the hapless window sill. The humming refrigerator.
The chants encasing me in each swayed note as I wrapped
my thin arms around my cold chest in the cavernous synagogue.
The creak of the swing as I turned horizontal, defying gravity
in the static of the transistor radio. The loud slap on the bass notes
of the body that make bruises, then the slow breath
pacing in and out until the danger is gone.
All the possibilities in each library novel about a girl,
afraid at the start, but about to do something
to swirl the calm pond of my life.
The first kiss in the back of the school bus broken by applause.
The sound of thunder, an interior roar like hunger.
The old staccato of my father's anger
before it dissolved into the tenderness of defeat.
The way some mornings rev up like motorcycles
coming point blank toward us. The exhaling speed
of rivers, starving for new ground, or betrayed
by sudden shorelines that break the water
toward remembering willows.
Bike tires on wet pavement, downhill at dawn.
The happy rhythm of the subway rocking my spine
in and out of alignment with the dark,
tunneling through water back to air,
the miracle of one rushing animal carrying us all.
This buzzing body ferrying millions of cells into sound.
Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg, Ph.D., 2009-13 Kansas Poet Laureate is the author of two dozen books, including, most recently, Miriam's Well, a novel; Everyday Magic: A Field Guide to the Mundane and Miraculous, and Following the Curve, a collection of embodied poetry. Founder of Transformative Language Arts at Goddard College where she teaches, Mirriam-Goldberg also leads writing workshops widely. www.CarynMirriamGoldberg.com