Poems of Hope and Despair

Writing to Picasso

I.
Writing to Picasso was like sending
Messages in a bottle—he never answered,
His friend writes.
At night I dream of Dora Maar,
Picasso’s companion, in her wheelchair
Making tracks on the paint-covered ground.
If I tell you my dream
Will you say:
Go back to sleep to dream more,
I want to know the rest?

II.
In the middle of a rainy day
I correct dictation test #11.
Popping Microwave Popcorn
Zhen-Ni, the thirteen year
Old from Shanghai writes:
Papting Markwek Pong
I say the words again and again:
Popping Microwave Popcorn
Papting Markwek Pong
First with laughter, then with tears.
She wants to learn, listens well,
Can’t hear the sounds of this new language.
The words of my languages are my sounds.
You can’t hear them, even when you listen.
Talking to you is like sending
Messages in a bottle.

What if I told you
I want to be open and fearless
Like a bolt of silk rolling
Down a high rise window.
What would you say to that?
What would you do then?

III.
In the Gold Country
I bought a fake-gold owl
Thought of the Golden Line,
Thought of whatever glitters is not gold,
The way my mother says the same thing.
Every walnut is round, but not every
Round thing is a walnut...
I saw purple lilacs and red clay...
The fields smelled sweet.
As I’m telling you my stories,
You slowly walk away.

IV.
In the khamsin year
The hot wind from the desert
Blew for fifty days.
We pulled down the shades.
Covered the tile floor with water
And stayed in.
In that dark, wet room.
The waves of heat go through
My body and linger under cloth and hair.
Come, sit with me on the bed.
Fan my face.
Braid my hair.

V.
If I tell you the story about my
Father and the new moon
How he stared at the sliver of the moon
One moment, closed his eyes and
Opened them to look at a child’s face.
One of us, one of his ten.
If I tell you taking the moon into
Himself and giving it to a child brought him
Good luck, month after month,
If I tell you all that...
Will you laugh with tenderness in your
Eyes and say:
You were loved so well, so well?






Esther Kamkar, Palo Alto, California artist and poet. Poems, poetry, writing, published works - footer logo

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