Sona Schmidt-Harris

Poetry

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Pleased to be Published in The Ravens Perch

Photo by Sona Schmidt-Harris

To New York City during her profound health crisis

On the Morning After the Prayer

The sounds of pigeons, horns and speaking

Rose from the dark—

A soft cacophony and comfort to anguish.

The drunken lay sleeping

Who hours before, expelled the excesses

Of their celebrations or despair,

And nature, merciful nature

Leads them all quietly to the sobriety of morning.

The body rises, or wishes to rise

And I stir and open my eyes

To see light leaking through the blinds

Spilling slanted patterns on the floor

Bending and changing nearly imperceptibly

Every moment.

And on the morning after the prayer,

I awaken full-limbed and whole

As the day of my birth

When my mother, weary from labor,

Unfurled my tightly clenched fists

To reveal ten fingers

And then lifted each tiny foot

Showing five plump, wriggling toes

Declaring themselves in each palm.

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“In the beginning, was the Word

And the Word was with God

And the Word was God.”

My grandmother’s bible

Lies seductively open on the desk

I remember my silent companions of the night

Lying immobile on my shelves--conduits of the Word

Who speak only when considered.

I dress and go outside

And Walt Whitman rising from the cracks in the sidewalk

Seems to say,

“You shall live another day.  You will love this city

And walk her trafficked ways."

"You will beat your path and make your way

And add your metered step to a city of millions

Whose collective step provides the rhythm

For whosever’s step is measured and far away.”

“You will earn and ask for your daily bread

And share in the public domain

To rise again corpulent and joyous

As the voice of Barry White

On a Harlem street.”

The great bridge spanning the East River

Looms largely in the sky.

And as a child who held her pen too tightly

Anxious in correct formation, I have torn the page.

And deeds of love and focused attention

Lie apparently unmade.

But I have thought of this bridge

As something of art and death

Forgetting its utility—

Forgetting those who traversed it on foot daily

To earn their wage.

And as others, I have viewed it as a grand exit—

A leap from a cabled cathedral

To where earthly volition fades away—

Where limbs are given motion only

By a river giving itself slowly to the sea.

But the dead of these waters shall rise up—

The women ascending as Aphrodites

Ripe with the knowledge of good and evil—

The men as Poseidons with tridents in their hands,

Which once used to stir the great waters

And shake the world

Shall be turned to plough the earth

Which her reapers have forsaken

Photo by Sona Schmidt-Harris

     

                          Gravity

 

Rain falls downward seeking the sea

Or any small fissure in the ground.

 

Bodies, earth-drawn, seek the dust

From whence they come.

 

All That Fall

            Belong—

 

To stumble, descend and self-destruct

On a course subterranean and drawn.

 

And then, the fiery womb

Where all are consumed

 

The blood of the oak

With the blood of the lamb

Fluid and spewed.

                             

I will not cross today, but will return in winter  

To walk eastward and declare with a loud voice

The hope that is Brooklyn.