local_library Adorned, etc.

by Trina Askin

Published in Issue No. 281 ~ October, 2020

Maybe you could be here again. Maybe if I asked the memory

if it would be okay. If it was a cinema, I could keep on reel

then it would be the slowed down dreamy string songs,

the golden oldies sound of the sea that is not really

the sea but that aqua blue of what we want to wade

within in the most tender sleep. And tonight,

I don’t fall asleep early, but walk the urban brown brick

tile markets in the metropolitan area ten minutes outside

of DC, this just after rain wet neon night.

The dimmed hazel glow of an Iraqi kite shop,

where hung above the burgundy woven rug of teal paisley

and white flower blossoms are red, black, green, purple,

and navy cloth diamonds, while some are shaped into

the story of ancient birds, maybe a passerby will remember

both strangely and astonishingly the way we do

when it comes to what we might have somehow

known from the womb, in this case womb of earth,

all that happened while we waited to be born.

And I remember, too, the year when we both labored

at the institution for the lost and hurting, and you

unstrung for my hands, to give the patients their kites,

I had accidentally tangled from all the last times.

But you ethereal orchestra string master

restored each instrument, each body for its part for heaven—

sky blended with the pastel blue cement building,

you watched with deep endearment. Was I like them?

Did I belong in a place shut away with sparks of joy

and mercy brought on by ones like you. Or is it

I have remained there all this time though still

somewhat a wanderer into the sunrise where I end up

by some faded tan garden apartments and in the courtyard

find pink flowering blossoms within the green leafed

mimosa trees shaggy and leaning their shade over a pool,

the wet blue. The wet blue. Pale teal and beige

tile surrounding the look of what is now becoming

a long time ago and in fashion all at once. But wasn’t

that always my life with you? How much older than me

were you, the beauty and wounds of a generation

you brought within your denim and tweed coats.

(cont., no stanza break)

And here I am playing the reel again, the grainy film strip

in my mind. And then I see the kites again, the white ones

like wool sails or what it was to shed the still body to make

a new body of leaving, the wild washing within

the wet wind, and how you told the one crying afraid

of where one would go, imagine it a mystery, the ships

of the first ancient merchants along somewhat still early

and pristine waters of the earth bringing to the foreign,

black glass of obsidian, that which was once lava

and now holding tiny crystals. And then I took in the words

for myself, who was also sad but mainly for you.

And I took in your image black glass of wounding skin

and black glass of healing with nourishment and repair of what

would be carved again after monsoon and other damaging.

But then again that was just me going far away to feel

what was lost again close to my heart. And they say

we will even lose all the stars in the end the night

just all black and thick hurt with all of the gases’

residue that were part of the cosmic dying. But I still

believe in the kingdom come, the resurrection of what

was lost. Yet, for now, it is a time for wandering

where he walks beside me along the red clay

of the tennis courts, that is the weeping patient you knew

just how to offer gentle comfort. He does not a hold

a racket but is in red swim trunks and a worn purple t-shirt

of an athletics team no longer alive, its white logo

stickers also erasing. He says he is walking until

the lifeguard blows his whistle because now he is good

at listening to the rules and also asks if I remember him

from the institution. Also, he wants to know,

do I remember you. But before I can answer he tells me

how much he misses you but that he is all right now,

to tell you he is all right now he is happy not sad:

All better now. All better now. And I wish it was true

that I could still tell you. That I still knew you for so

many reasons. We smell the wet mildew on wet clover

that we brush our sneakers against, kicking softly

the yellow Penn balls in our way. And with our humming,

we match the birds of the orange cream morning

and the 1950’s Arabic night club music that plays

from someone’s emerald green drapery shaded studio.

And it is as though we are hearing what has carried over

from someone’s dream into waking. Soft wailing

of heartache loss and new want, which is always

somehow the old want. This over the oud thrumming

(cont., no stanza break)

and minor key piano’s moody gifting. And I think

how this might be a moment you would really love.























Michelle Askin





Ghosts and Robots


No one understands why I let my heart, my life

become so ruined over you. Why in the age of ghosts,

robots, and the new gorgeous—those bodies of pool-

like liquid euphoria, I let myself become a ghost

for you. They did not see you on the snowy hill

by the metro rails and tunnels, how you unzipped

your nylon black coat and rose petals poured out.

Your eyes, always so sad and severe. First, you

looked at them, then at me. They were lovely

but within them was the dark matter that holds

together those secret crevices of the universe.

Once I thought I would be someone of great holiness

and devotion, so I always dreamed my hands

in blue soapy water, washing wood-carved bowls

to put the peaches in for the poor—an homage

to the perfumed Jesus. Or, I wanted to be something

of great light. I remember taking the bus, and a woman

crying, going on in her thick Slavic accent,

We did not leave the barren, farms, of our youth

for such things as this, that is to have a daughter

who does not leave the bed, her only friend—

a teddy bear given to her by a boyfriend from school.

But now look, who will have her now, the slothy big baby,

my once so pretty and kind hearted girl.

And that’s not even the saddest part of the story.

It’s how she says that sometimes, she hears her singing

the bear lullabies at night, you know, the happy ones

about the horses and the birthday cake.

And there is a hope in her voice, that can only

exist for real in the dream world or a world

she can never live in., not now that it’s too late.

And I thought, young and just beginning,

in the world how seeping through my skin,

the sorrowful and the hidden, would see clusters

of stars born within me waiting to be shared with them.

But I have nothing to give and nowhere to be

but in the worlds of this city, where nothing belongs to me,

but its untouchable dreaminess. For I no longer

(cont., no stanza break)

have a labor to gift with, no gift to bargain with.

So the merchants gather in the urban warehouses

and I wander the faded cement green and neon signs

for Russian Gourmet Candy & Meat Mart

and Turkish Tobacco and Pipe Shop

and Japanese Karaoke Rooms, where bright aqua

in ancient oceans and vintage 50’s Cadillacs

through the screen, fill the room otherwise in darkness

and humming heartbreak. Kaito sings and dreams

in one of these rooms. He is dropped off here

from the group home for the intellectually disabled,

and what he also says is the lonely. And when he wails,

it is the cries of Heaven for all that is broken

within this watery and grainy earth and also

within the audio console of my heart.

I used to be a renowned orchardist back in Japan,

he tells me as he exits the door. But nobody

believes me here, nobody believes there was

any beauty grown from me. I have feeling you know

this sort of sadness. And he is of truth,

that is, if there was anything at all once beautiful

within me. And as he leaves for his bus,

he tells me to remember there are shores beyond

whatever sand one dwells within. And I know

it is the kindness of him offering words to me that

I will remember. The sky becomes a dense wet blue

and holds a creamy glow of the moon and I touch

the blossoms on the trees as though I can hold

white light in my skin. Moistening spring air,

I want to inhale. I want to be made new again.

But I am past the age of chance after chance.

Aren’t I? It’s no longer winter, but I remember you

in winter. I remember everything. All the blurring.

All the blurring around me. In the rusty tavern-

made church across the street, they name the dead,

yet rejoice in hymn at the inking of the book of life.

And it is moving what echoes through

those stained glass walls of soft lambs, and doves

in fire, the humbling longing to touch the hem

of a robe. And I’m sorry I never became beautiful

for this world, for my Lord, for you. After all

this time. I know I had all this time.





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Trina Askin's poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Willard & Maple, The Meadow, Oyez Review, Oranges & Sardines, Pleiades, 2River View, and elsewhere. She lives in Virginia.