Friday, March 18, 2011

A Thousand Cranes for Japan

It's hard not to get whiplash this week, switching between disasters in Japan and the revolution in Libya. My heart still sends up many prayers to suffering Japan. Japan has a tradition of making paper cranes for luck, a tradition that found its way into one of my poems. Here's to recovery in Japan:

At the Thousand Cranes Auto Repair

The women were making and the men waiting
in the room provided. Folding a square piece of gold,
the Japanese woman looked up from behind
her sunglasses and said: A thousand paper cranes.
For a party. For luck. The men’s eyes
fuzzed and snapped: NO TALKING to strangers
during auto repair. A woman with a fan of years
on her forehead moved across the space
to sit beside the folder, pleating the room.
Another question launched the tale
of the last thousand cranes, made at a dying
grandmother’s bedside. (Hers? Mine?
This woman might appear someday at your bed—
for luck, she would say) Everyone was listening
openly now. Their necks leaned in parallel.
Feet dropping down, they flew on story currents
and watched being after being take shape
and rise from luck-bending, blind invention’s
darting, dark skinned fingers.

-- Rachel Dacus
(originally published in Stirring)

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Ghost Hours

Ghost Hours

1. Spring Forward
The government’s at it again, tampering time.
We stagger behind, wishing Salvador Dali minutes
would lag instead of leap. April, the month of taxes
and poetry, trails us like an urchin, asking for thanks
while we are thanked by the government
with jet-lag and loss of easeful dark.
Do you really expect us to pump
the big-top minutes in this shell game
with lifespan, this unsought forward-swap?
And where do the authorities keep
my acrobat hour? My purse’s emptiness
holds shadows and stars.

2. Stashed
Perhaps Congress has stashed the saved time
in a teak box inlaid with mother-of-pearl roses
and lined in dawn-like blue satin.
Or perhaps they use a big penny jar
shaped like a trumpeting elephant.
The lock in his triumphant, raised trunk.
Too many of us must have keys,
for every fall we find it looted
like the empty bank I once saw hung with a For Sale sign.
The silver-hinged vault lay open
for deposits of dust. Ghost hours
must have danced in that mouth at midnight.
I won’t put my overtime
in anything so mawed
or keep my memories under its picked lock.

3. Fall Back
When skeletons dance
and red devil leaves seesaw,
the clock spins backwards. Spring
forward, fall back, I repeat to timepieces
whose hands I wring.
The powers-that-save have conjured
the phantom hour. It imps my night, keeps
afternoons whirring like hummingbirds.
I see now why we must hoard every spark
of light against night’s snip-end and hold life
by the tail – the dark dot
of the question mark.

-- first appeared in The Atlanta Review