Every day since school began
our ten year old son bursts into tears:
“My bike is scratched! My cat is hurt!”
He pushes away our hugs, and weeps,
standing, sitting, lying in the leaves,
the great head with zinnia-petaled hair
bowed over the heaving chest.
Helpless, hopeless, wave after wave,
he weeps until he’s done.
It’s hard for us to listen,
but we say to each other,
“Why shouldn’t a boy cry?”
Please God, why shouldn’t a man?
Why shouldn’t all the men in the world
lie down and cry, feet dangling,
knuckles rubbing their wet faces.
Let the stop working, stop traveling, stop talking,
and sit, in the daylight, in the dark,
in the woods and cities and deserts,
and cry, sobs filling the sky,
inhalations flooding their lungs
with other men’s exhalations,
connecting them together,
their bodies becoming one with rivers, lakes and seas:
while we sisters, mothers, and grandmothers
crouch down beside them, praying,
our bodies feeling their pain
as we do when our small sons cry:
sweet and strong, these men and nations,
bold enough to weep men’s tears.
THE LAKE’S LONG HAIR
A cool wind
the lake’s long hair.
Rivers of darkness
rivers of light.
Black cloud footprints
walk the sun-whitened water.
It would be better
to be a painter
than a writer.
No, it would be better
to be a swimmer,
stroking out to meet my lover.
No. It would be best of all
to stop swimming, and drown,
and live forever
in the lake’s long hair.