Ranzoni poems

Two from Patricia Ranzoni


I was ill, lying on my bed of old papers,
when you came with white rabbits in your arms;
and doves scattered upwards, flying to mothers. . . .
--Rita Dove, "The Secret Garden"

From surgical sleep too deep to be recovered to write
I woke sensing something at the window pleading to be my
poem. From those concrete cliffs-dawn, doctoring October's
death. Daylight making black copies of every white tree
disavowing another colorful life. Gray-shroud clouds as far
as . . . and oh the shimmer of the river's glide to its tidal wife
under bridges pledged to veterans of other darknesses
numbered and named. Memorializing night to day saying
without one its other cannot be something to do with fidelity.
And huddling high on that ledge with me (and pigeons to
their own lofts flown) close as fingers and feathers through
glass, lady June, who couldn't recite certain facts, some
ways stroked away to waters she never expected to cruise on
the coast of Maine with views only she could visit but not
tell. Nurses from New Zealand would come fly with them to
where she'd now stay across the lake from her husband
across the lake from where they used to live together before
this trip. I happen to know this because he happened by
briefly (where is he) each day to rehearse the plan with her.
That's the trouble with those semi-private rooms nothing be-
tween but cloth, a pretended protection either way. Nothing
to keep us from each other's grief keep me from knowing
she could see neither dawn nor any new light that there's no
difference to her days and nights nothing to do with curtains.
Another night there I might've dared read her Rita except it
might've made her envy Beulah her Tom, his yellow scarf, a
mandolin. Might've made her rather die than miss a need like

--for Ed and Jim and Jim


Yet there's a word that I would give to you:
the truth you tell in your dumb images
my daylight self goes stumbling after too.
So we may meet at last, and meeting bless,
and turn into one truth in singleness.

--Judith Wright
"The Other Half"

That your spasmodic/athetotic daylight/nightlight self would set out all this way from Adelaide after Boston.

That you would even imagine this when years pass here longing for someone to come and some days it seems I could die and not be missed beyond this house.

That I would say yes when I don't have it in me to invite even a near friend who might have asked to stop by. Yes with help yes.

Whyever you came and I let you, everyone knew it needed to be and was good
even my Roman husband and Kansan sister who saw the reflection we are to each other
in our basal ganglian liaison and helped it come true even your New Zealand lady
I could kiss mischievous with all she knows.

Friend beyond hemisphere and age haven't I seen you crashing past in an Etruscan chariot
seen you on a coin raised from the lonian Sea and with my eyes wide open
seen you here in Maine, golden with Camden's sun as if hearing you're in town
reaching through the cold in Millay's cedar-boughed shadow
to feel your classic dystonic form breathing out loud your phoenix poems?

Now I've seen you walking, hands clasped behind your back for contemplation
as much as balance, our bodies sketching involuntarily the odd art of our being
on the sidewalk to Old Town Canoe, on Sand Beach another ocean under your belt.
Offering argument over new-to-you blueberry cakes, thanking for debates over energy-
required desserts, weighing the first lobster of your life, strangling as I sometimes do
to make a point. Socrates and Plato would like your method and let me ask you this. . . .

Gone, I look around, noting what you've left. Aware I may never know
all you brought I still recognized the world didn't I my heart jumpstarts to hear you through my
slurred speech my blepharo-lidded eyes believing what they see your turning
neck curling in me the fact of you still along my jerking nerves.

I'll remember the question posed by your calligraphic grace how it would be
being loved by a man all over the place like you answering me what it's like for my husband
to be loved by a woman all over the place like me believing we may have been shown
a ray of it twining for our goodbye.

Patricia Ranzoni

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