70,000

70,000

by Carmen H Gray

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(art by children, ages 10 and 11, while staying at a respite center run by the Catholic church in McAllen, Texas)

70,000 is a neat number

Rounded up for sixty-nine thousand and something beyond fifty

Easily divisible by two

Until you keep dividing in half

Eventually you reach fractions of a whole

Those shards of whole parts

Are not just numbers

They are fractured pieces of a person’s soul

Disturbances in family fault lines

That refuse to lay dormant

You can see it in the drawings of the children

Who are crying, ¿Dónde está mi mamá?”

And in the exanimated eyes

That can no longer produce tears

Those quashed emotions inhabit

An exponential fallout

From this tidy number

Sundays in Autumn

tree

art and poetry by Carmen H Gray

Sundays in Autumn

Sundays in Autumn are alive

In and amongst the decay

The burnished rust revealing

That even an exquisite crown

Moves from its gilded beginnings

To evidence of archaic vulnerable venerability

All this I see with a deep inhale and an exhilarating sigh

That great oak, grande dame, standing

Gazing back at me

Telling me these truths

That’s what Sundays in Autumn are for

Up

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Up

Before I took you there

I just knew it was the place

We had to travel together

A steep and rocky path

Crowded with ferns and lichen

And a few old trees

But you pointed out

All of the new growth

As we spoke of Trachtenberg math

And you told me how

He created this system

To keep his mind occupied while locked away in misery

And how his book fascinated you as a young boy

Probably the Old Ones

Like the old trees

Telling the new growth

Number secrets

We rested against the old trees

And sat on rocks that served as splendid suspensions

The trees gave way to open sky

And I knew this moment was magical

The candy colored sky agreed

A father and daughter’s journey

Up

 

 

 

 

 

 

Life Twice, Again

Life Twice, Again

by Carmen H Gray

Life twice, by and by

The want, the wonder, the frivolous why

The comings and goings of faraway ships

Silvery musings forming inside of my lips

Lips that once whispered youthful utterings

While inside my belly where once there were flutterings

A light has broken and shapes appeared in its whiteness

The child, the maiden, the wistful ripeness

And their shadows, no doubt, holding space in the stillness

Therein is where I find myself inhabiting realness

All of the cuts and the sharp words that wished to be said

Rose up to greet my heart gently, without fear or dread

And, I, having lived a singular moment twice

Embraced those shadows in my paradise

 

 

 

 

Rain

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Rain

by Carmen H Gray

This morning’s misty rain

Reminded me

That in these last two new days of the year

So much has been gently cleansed

The kind of purification that you might not even notice

Like walking down that same hallway

In that once familiar building

That housed so many hopes and fears and tears

But this time

It was a singular experience

In the extraordinary world

Today’s rain on the bamboo

Greeted me like an old friend

On my porch

Unlike the day before

Parallel Lines

parallel lines

by Carmen H Gray

 

I saw those lines

running across your

soft arms

arms that had formed inside my womb

arms I bathed

arms that glistened in the summer sun

arms that were cut and poked and prodded, too

I gently placed aloe on those lines

and whispered prayers to each of them

”let the pain leave” I said

and only beauty reside here

Hope paralleled

within a tiny freckle found

Between those lines

 

 

 

 

Speechless

“But the beginning of things, of a world especially, is necessarily vague, chaotic, and exceedingly disturbing. How few of us ever emerge from such beginning! How many souls perish in its tumult!”-from The Awakening by Kate Chopin

Speechless

by Carmen H Gray

 

why didn’t you say anything?

what froze your tongue?

was it fear, sucking your mouth

stuck, in the murky muck

struck, like backs of our

ancestral sisters

we have struggled

to return to ourselves

to remunerate our homecoming

tumbling from centuries

of tongues tied through the ages