Abby Caplin / Poetry 6.1 / Spring, 2018

ABBY CAPLIN

 

Photography © by Tammy Ruggles from RSR Featured Art

 

COLD

Sky is cold and darkening though it’s early
afternoon. A friend called to say
you died on Friday smashing

into a parked car. I know
you had a way of saying your truth,
meaning you may or may not have been helpful,

meaning it may or may not
have been the truth.
The point is that your death is a great

way to raise funds
for the institute, pay
you craved for yourself.

I search my heart
and desk for sorrow,
but find only this white crystal

I bought last summer
that looks like a nugget
of coconut meat knocked

out of its shell, but isn’t.
And this brass lamp, its light
warming the frozen landscape

of your wrinkled face,
your stained teeth, your sprightly,
icicle-blue eyes.

ANCESTORS

I had forgotten about our fox
and gull relatives, until a Brooklyn-
born shaman reminded me that we
are all born of the first
celled beings, that all living

things are cousins,
and all stones want comfort.
The wild parrots rest
in the old pine out back
where I spot their toddler

eyes and toy beaks, their feathery
cherry helmets,
born of enslaved
Ecuadorian ancestors.
My ear breaks

rearranging itself
to unscramble their chatty squawks
as they bounce
on telephone wires.
You are poisoning us, they say.

Unless you take responsibility,
we’ll be wiped out.
This is why we wake you up
at noon and don’t
give you our feathers
.

Under the picnic table,
garden spiders weave
a gentle web around
my ankles. Their tenderness
is almost unbearable.

Then, Uncle Skunk gassed
the garage, and the Toyota mutated
from black and white to Technicolor,
the cement floor cracking
along fault lines.

O Ancestors, I had forgotten you!

Today I bathed in garden dirt,
threw ashes on my head
and over my left shoulder,
asked forgiveness from the bells
of flax, the stout calendula,

the nursery rows of romaine.
I dreamed of Siberian
permafrost where a Yakutian great-
grandmother looks for me
with my mother’s eyes,

her village now tarred in Gap
and McDonald’s, and too much time
has passed. I try to forgive her children
for forgetting her,
try to remember spider

grandmothers and their looms,
the way they gather,
a circle of weavers in council,
the way they bless those home-
grown tomatoes that taste so good.

 

Abby Caplin received her medical degree from Texas Tech University and master’s degree in integral counseling psychology from the California Institute of Integral Studies. She currently works as a physician, practicing mind-body medicine and counseling. Caplin’s poem “Still Arguing with Old Synagogue” was a finalist in Anna Davidson Rosenberg Poetry Award (2015), and she’s an award recipient of the San Francisco Poets Eleven (2016) poetry contest. Her poetry and nonfiction have been published or are forthcoming in several journals and anthologies, including Adanna, Alyss, apt, Big Muddy, The Binnacle, Burningword, Canary, Catamaran, Common Ground Review, Crack the Spine, Dunes Review, Forge, The Healing Muse, ,McNeese OxMag, Poetica, The Round, The Scream Online, TSR: The Southampton Review, These Fragile Lilacs, Third Wednesday, Tiger’s Eye, Tikkun, Whistling Shade, and Willow Review.

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