you are in the diode archives fall 2010



Another Orphan Story

Quickly: take the woman and the girl, the woman born to watch over,
half-proud, slapping both arms of the chair,
the orphan straight from the south Georgia flats, a girl so ready to adore.

Rake the grit of the world into the hand.  The word is hurting.

In the beginning, the girl never wanted a saint, only a tree.  So the dust
of the woman’s body was the trunk she learned to put her arms around
Little soul.  Little child.  Come.  The truth was the girl was no child,
yet she asked simple questions (May I touch your pretty cheek?)
and knew tricks that could wrestle the woman to the ground. 

The woman grew weary, always stumbling out of the heroine’s milk. 
She swore the girl’s blackberry heart wouldn’t touch her,
the storm wouldn’t touch her.  But some days she wanted to eat the girl;
some nights she dreamed the girl carried her for hours.

The girl grew old under the glaring sun, the chair, worn and half blue,
the girl’s gray hairs sprouting like dandelion tufts, and still she chirped too much
and turned too often from the light.  The girl wanted to be Buddha or Jesus,
or a low-bobbing devil in a pond.  The girl was only a philosopher of pine needles.
No one wanted her unruly sorrows. 

This is a human misery.  This is the first sagging pain where a God is born. 
The woman left quickly.  The word is hurting.  The girl could not stop laughing.


No Time

No time to do right for my child. 
The warm skies shriek and nothing smells of orchards. 
I have to fill in with eucalyptus oil. 
How to mend in misery?
The memory of swans keeps me alive, and a girl
who bludgeons tentworms with the handle of a rake.  
And what of the body, especially one that never settles in?
How can I wash it down the river with the tears my small child sees? 

When she calls, I go to her.  It’s one thing I can do. 
When I tell her it is time for me to leave her to the night,
she says she must keep me for a little while.
No time to do right for my child.
I kiss her forehead that is firm, and pray for ground.


Householder’s Love Poem

For love I stir the air with all I have,
tongue, soft feet, pale weeds of hope. 
I prick my fingers, crack apart my spine.
For you, I hook my fingers to the hoax
of security, then weep into the trees;
their cool strength leaves scratches on my cheek. 

For you, the listening to ruin that won’t shut up.   
For you, the rain, the days we sat on the porch,
watched the storms come on. 

Sometimes it’s pain that makes the only sense I know.
For you the bird behind my eyes resets its claws.



to the honeyed residue of beeswax,

not so much to the wren’s song,
but to the pulse of its ochre colored belly,

to the weeping at the forest entrance,

to the clatter of crowds and plagues. 

The earth is not speechless. 
The trees forgive and outlive terror.

The moon-soaked hills are raw and answer mildly.

There is a small girl who dances, laughs, and shakes
a spoon.  The spoon is sighing for her future. 

At night when her mother washes the girl’s quick feet,
she makes a softening of softness.   

Later the mother braids thread, drops it to wax, lifts. 
The sounds are small and lonely. 
The wick is pure with secrets. 



Breath of metal and surge,
Breath of the failed sparrows, dirty-faced, blasting their dull songs,
Breath parted by the rains,

Breath leaking from the pained undersides of stones,
Breath of omen and rose,
Breath born and carried, fueled by the hunger for morning,

Breath shivering from the daylilies,
Breath of the wind that lifts the man's comb-over,
            so much life sworn to strands of silver and old hay,

Breath spread across the lettuce and the green peppers,
Breath of the girl swearing in secret,
Bashful breath, attracted to ritual and greed,

Breath of the daily grind, of worn teeth,
            Breath inside the tree
Breath of the watcher in her torn coat,

Breath billowing in the ragged hours,
Breath of the sweeper and the follower,
Breath unnoticed,          then noticed again.  


Tara Bray’s recent work has been published or will soon be published in The Southern Review, West Branch, Puerto Del Sol, Crab Orchard Review, and Colorado Review. Her first book, Mistaken For Song, was published by Persea Books in 2009.