Maeva Neale

Introspect\The Seed
By Maeva Neale

I was an irritant seed
Within my mother’s womb
A growth part stone, part pearl
Which slipped out into the world
At seven pounds, shimmering like mica.

Ten thousand days were crystals to my quartz
And I became a fine substantial rock.

I don’t remember when the first crack formed
Or if I felt the fungus feet take hold
But now I know that I am mostly mold and moss
Immensely soft and raw.

The Way of Silence\The Giraffe
By Maeva Neale

Many years ago, in Kenya,
they told me that my special animal
was a giraffe
probably because I was tall and thin
with a long neck.

I bend to eat my food.
I give birth standing up
And more and more I find the way of silence.

I hear the rustle of lions in the long grass,
the burp and flutter of vultures on the kill.
I see the nest the weaver makes
to attract the most beautiful bird
And more and more I find the way of silence.

I look into vacant eyes and see their emptiness.
I see the slow movement of clouds and the coming storm.
I know that we will not be in this lovely world for long,
a world of cunning and beauty,
And more and more I find the way of silence.

Sorrow’s Springs\The StingRay
By Maeva Neale

I am thinking now of the tops of mountains,
with their capes and necklaces of snow,
the scattered pearls which each early day
the warm sun gently melts
and all things spring in flower now
this May
and of a higher, stranger, colder peak,
impossible to climb,
impossible to leave,
since my mother died.

I am thinking now of deep places in a warm sea
at the edge of a coral reef
where I have watched into the eyes of a scorpion fish
and seen the sting ray slip like a robed sorcerer
away along the settled sand
and of more depth and
quiet brilliance
since my mother died.

I am thinking now of how a word hits its mark
in a head or a heart
And rhymes, sings,
stays, stings,
plays, puns,
pierces, bores,
settles, lies,
soars, cries,
a thousand languages all intricate and strong
enough to make a litany, a song,
a text, a tome, a tomb, a poem
and of the years of closer cherished
comfort to my mind,
since my mother died.

I am thinking now of berries ripened on the dusty vines,
the bright hot fields’ lines of bent braceros.
We find the red fruit too, and fill our pails.
We take this sweetness from the earth
and make a feast today, and then
our winter jam to spread
on steaming fragrant fresh-baked bread.
and of more sweet and rich and
splendid love,
since my mother died.

Lois Lake\The House
By Maeva Neale

When I was eight years old
I had a friend called Lois Lake.

I didn’t know anyone else who lived
In an apartment instead of a house.
Sometimes when you pressed the outside bell,
The building said a quiet no. On other days
It welcomed you with such a sudden blast
Of sound that you would gasp, and tug with slipping
Fingers at the handle of the heavy door
And get it open just in time. Inside,

You heard people walking on the ceiling.
Toilets you never saw flushed below the floor.
You met strange people on the stairway
And noticed their smell as you went by.

Her whole life seemed as wonderful as when
My parents sang together in the car.

You did the laundry in the basement.
Machines jiggled around on the cement floor.
You fed the clothes into the wringer,
While someone else turned the crank.

At supper time her father insisted
On a marvelous silence, so you could hear
The dreamy disconnected things. Lois had
A baby brother with sweet eyes like M & M’s.
I wanted a brother too, and knew only
That there was no one I could ask
About how to get one. He ate with his hands,
But I was proud they made me use a fork.

I never knew what sadness was until
She moved away, so they could buy a house.

Sugar\The Dog
By Maeva Neale

Cloud breath of puppies
Fragrant and sweet
Mists of air on small tongues
Nose to tongue,
Pink tongue licking.

Their mother, Sugar,
Lying on her side, so
Any pup can drink of her milk.

Sugar, brown and white,
An English setter
Slept beneath the tree where I read,
Played my pattern in puddles,
Ran with me up and down the small hills,
My companion for eleven years.

I will never forget the day
When I came home from school
And found her on the living room carpet
With no breath left to breathe, silent and still.

The Direction of Cities\The Spider
By Maeva Neale

I am sick of standing with the vacuum
cleaner sucking up the spider webs.
I have gone far enough

in the direction of cities,
where rivers are diverted
for the irrigation of dishwashers.

does it matter that I have waited?
will my flowers turn to silk
and the soil to cement?

who comes to pave the country roads
to paint their yellow lines
encase their plants in rows?

if I begin to unbuild, will their
constructs continue
when I leave this house?

who requires the fumigation
who wants to break these fragile webs
and make this place untenanted?

the cars drive round and round the block
and when the music stops
there’s always one parking space too few.
Dragon Lines\The Dragon
By Maeva Neale

Yesterday I learned that space is full of dragon lines
which cross, connect and coalesce to form in places
mindful clumps of matter.

Yesterday I learned that grave dragon lines keep
the dangling moon suspended to the twisting earth, in turn
entranced about the oscillating sun.

Yesterday I learned that dancing dragon lines extend
from toe and fingertips in fierce unending slither
through the air, and that the marrow source
issues blood which takes the formidable course of dragon lines
and flows as joyfully as snakes.

Tonight I will watch from the beach the yo-yo sun
come to the limit of its northern reach and begin
to wind in toward the central equinox.

Can we too grasp in our own light talons the fragile reins
of dragon lines and feel again the pull against them
when the wolf dies and ancient forests fall?

Can we recall our vast voltage like the sun
in unashamed recoil from this toxic desolate extreme
and find the dragon lines spun back to center,
within the fiery lucent balance of the dream?

Plaint\The Dove
By Maeva Neale

We consulted a lawyer today and decided to sue.
What is the worst that can happen to the defendant?
I asked him. He will not sleep well
For several days or several months. He
Will hate you. He may lose his job. But someday
He will forget it all. In a box on the car seat beside me
Is a wounded dove, with eyes full of endless equanimity.
The ache of incipient tears is like citrus in my throat.
I notice the calligraphy of clouds. I will try
To keep us all alive until we no longer remember
Today’s date, or even the year of this misfortune.
By Maeva Neale

I sometimes think
that it would be a great accomplishment
to learn just this one thing

To be able continuously to find
or rather to create from minute to minute
inside of me
an empty center
as calm and open as the doughnut holes
in some of Henry Moore’s bronze people

To learn to lose
the little fearful unbreathing knot
in that central place of self

Maybe not to carry the self around
at all
to carry something much lighter
like god.
The Birth of Birds\The Heron
By Maeva Neale

The sweet celebration of blackbirds on a wire,
The raspy call of ravens in the trees,
The rapid rat-tat-tat of the woodpecker on the pole,
The silent steps of herons in the marsh.

When will I sing the trills and spirals of the blackbird fugue?
When will I call to my dark lover in the pines?
When will I taste the dense bodies of insects on my tongue?
When will I stride in confidence down the long corridor?

Now I feel the buds of wings on shoulder blades
Now I watch my fingers turn to talons
Now I groom my feathers with my beak
And now—at last—I don’t know how to speak.