Ode to Mr. Spock
He was a member of the tribe of Wolf
And he was partly of the pure blood
Which made him moody
And sensitive to the secrets hidden in the night.
And while he seemed to yearn so earnestly
For the love of small children
Their fat sticky toes
And wet chubby cheeks yelling “doggy!”
In those utterly desperate voices (as though
They had unexpectedly alighted upon, amidst this bland Earth life
Something very important that had been left behind
In that Other life from which they’d so recently emerged)
We couldn’t always trust him
To lick tenderly with his enormous ham slice of a tongue
Trust the harvest moons of his eyes
To always contain the steadfast, avuncular understanding
Of his more domesticated brethren.
And so in public his mouth was encased
In a clamp of plastic bars.
He hated it.
He was a prisoner
And we cried for him.
When he died so unexpectedly
It was clear
The secrets of the night had taken him.
The tribe of Wolf had reclaimed him
Seeing his unfitness for leashes
And the bristled little gloves we put on
Trying to brush his teeth
That gleaming set of white knives tucked
Into the dark velvet box of his mouth.
We buried him in the backyard
Letting ragweed and chamomiles grow
Like a wild man’s beard over the small hump of his grave.
When I had the vision of him, he wasn’t
A dog at all but a boy
With shining hair and brilliant, sharp white teeth.
And I watched while he scrambled angrily up
A steep, scraggly hillside and then dove, relieved and compelled
Into a green pool of water so completely lit from underneath
It was as if the sun herself hibernated at the bottom.
I’m not the only one.
My aunt by marriage—who is no longer
My aunt by marriage—
Had a vision of her sheepdog after he died
In a bathroom stall at Cracker Barrel.
She came back out to my uncle and her white gravy and grits
But she was never the same.
As for me I have taken the green pool
Into the deepest recess of my heart.
It has become my true north
A mantra, a meditation, a prayer.
There is no one to talk to about visions these days.
There are only projections, variegated forms
Of schizophrenia, sensitivity, difficulty fitting in and
Divorce. Artsy fartsy if you’re lucky.
You learn not to talk about the green pool.
Because the mind is epiphenomenal of the Brain. The Brain! The Brain!
But what else can you do with this pool once you’ve seen it?
I’d like to go to the edge of a field humming
With bees, a haze of golden flowers, and three black
Crows arguing over the eyeball
Of dead doe, her body near and pressing
The flowers to the ground
Crushing the petals so they release their brief scream
A fragrance of burnt cinnamon and bone.
I’d like to sit at a cracking
Wooden table eating
Pistachios soaked to softness in cardamom and honey
Have the old ones, who still know about the different worlds
Show me how to walk the path between them
Brushing brambles out of the way and teaching me
How to shake sticks at snakes
Our feet as quiet on this path as leaves
The sky and the stars and the planets
Falling about our shoulders like a quilt.
I put the badge with the small photo of myself
And “Property of Enfield School System”
Up to the red light.
Some mechanism I don’t understand
Hums and clicks, the light turns green
And I go in.
There are cameras.
There is a police presence.
We are the lucky ones.
My morning email is a letter
Of solidarity and hope.
Forgiveness, for our grief.
I help a boy with a literary essay.
The TV that picks up old transmissions from outer space
Represents the character’s past.
When the character dismantles the TV
And uses the parts for an invention to help a friend
He is coming to terms
With his trauma, learning
To be a part of the now.
The boys says excuse me I don’t mean to be rude
But I think symbolism is stupid.
Sometimes I think I have an urge to save mankind
Because I felt, as a child
Soley responsible for my mother’s happiness.
I see the curling into small, dark places
And some mechanism I don’t understand hums and clicks
The light tuns green
And I go in.
Sometimes I think the same urge to help
Is a form of enlightenment.
These are the days I feel confident.
Lately there aren’t many of them.
More often it’s screaming at the top
Of my lungs in the car with the door closed
Where no one can see me.
I eat salted cashews for lunch.
A banana so darkly spotted it smells, gently
Of a cream liquor.
I sit by a girl and spell Europe.
I sit by a boy and spell didn’t.
I sit by a girl and spell product.
The air is quiet and dusty.
There is a near constant grind of pencil sharpening.
I work with a boy on his social studies project about salamanders.
The axolotl stares at us sweetly from the bright ipad.
It looks like a cross between a teddy bear with hands
And a cartoon baby fish.
The axolotl can even regenerate his brain I read in surprise.
The boy grins I’m going to get one
And bash his head in.
There is a pleasure in his voice. Strange and deep.
A mechanism I don’t understand
Hums and clicks, a light turns green, and I go in.
There is a place behind my heart, above my spleen
Where I’ve knitted together bursts of gratitude
For the crisp air of early mornings
The unconditional love of dogs, and a few paragraphs
From Carl Jung about energy and the collective unconscious
That make me believe, when I read them, in absolutely everything
And I’ve set this all on a slow spin
To Rachmaninoff’s piano concerto number 2.
I’ve strung up
Inside this slowly spinning web
Images of my husband’s face, smiling and whispering nothings
As he crouches, pushing plates of chunked tuna toward the feral cat
That lives under our porch.
I cut a slice of this web now and it sits
Slow, and spinning, and smiling, and whispering, and believing
In my palm
And I hand the slice now to the boy.
It’s not something that can be seen or heard, you understand?
But it hurts to cut it out.
It hurts to hand it to him.
He might not take it.
Probably, he won’t take it.
I do it anyway, that’s the important part.
Today it doesn’t matter why.
Somehow, what I do is part of the absolutely everything
And that is good enough.
It is good enough.
Today all that matters is the hum
The click, the light going green
The going in.
The forecast said rain in the morning
So when I woke to the sun so bright
On the other side of the window shade--
As if mountainous hunks of rose quartz, all
Of America’s pawnshop’s worth of thin gold necklaces
And millions of pink peppercorns
Had been ground in a giant mortar and set ablaze
Behind a door made simply of words that said
Oh dear wait just a moment please oh dear oh dear--
I felt a surge of happiness
Lifting the shades and throwing open the windows
Breathing it in.
The unexpected gift, a perfect morning.
A tidy green tractor dragging
Her twirling set of metal spoons through the earth
Tossing worms and small rocks up from the belly of the field
And the birds now diving
For those small, jellied creatures, the worms
So stunned by their sudden awareness of the sun
They lie still, and nearly pleased to die.
The willows with their long unkempt green hair
Hippy women, gathering chamomile flowers
And tiny mushrooms by their rough, generous legs.
I stick my nose to the screen and suck in the coffeegrind
And rawhide of the fresh dirt
The grassy perfume of the chamomiles
The chins of their miniature golden faces tilted up
By the starched Victorian collars of their white petals.
I listen to the birds, shrieking in delight
At their fullness
Wings staggering under the weight
But they are diving
And diving again so it looks--
With the worms thrown up to the sky and
The birds hurtling toward earth--as if we have arrived
At the singularity
Courtesy of one early waking farmer
And his trusty John Deere
And I am breathing in this great gift
Of a morning
And of course it is a singularity
Courtesy of one man and a tractor, not just as if
But really, truly is.
And yet, I have an urgent desire
Run an errand.
I should wash my hair, it’s looking oily again.
At least finish that difficult chapter.
Update my resume.
And what’s worse I know
That when I die it is this gift of mornings
I’ll try to gather into me.
Giddy birds and trees
With their nonsensical amount of tenderness.
The smallest pebbles chucked up in grand sprays
From the cool deep ground, laughingly
Remembering that they too can be a part
Of this world
Even though they can do so terribly little
With their allotted time.
This gift will be the demonstrable essence
And the countless hours I’ll have spent
Finishing tasks that indicate I’m the sort of person
Who would be very good at making rich men richer
And being punctual
And trying so hard to look like someone--nails filed, eyebrows combed--
Who finishes difficult and important things and is punctual
Will have been time that could have been better used
By the tiniest of brown pebbles, tossed
By a metal spoon into a brilliant sky
Still and humble and quiet and perhaps yes
A bit melancholy from having lived
So long in the darkness of dirt
Oh doing absolutely nothing but being himself and cherishing
His moment in the sun.
Did you hear about the water truck that flipped into a ditch today off Elm street?
My husband’s face is alive with excitement. Two broken arms!
It’s so like him to care
About these kinds of random dramatic events, and I think I disappoint
Him when I barely nod, or say uh-huh, my face stuffed in a book
Overthinking everything and developing
A pain in my back from sitting too long.
But he’s part of this world so completely it’s like his own arms are breaking.
Like he was driving that truck.
When he reaches for his coffee—and I can never believe this-- he is his very own hand, Reaching. When he takes a sip he is lips and then, a throat.
When I tell him, as he drinks his coffee
He is the most beautiful man I’ve ever seen
He laughs and says I’m pushing 50. You have googly eyes.
But I don’t have googly eyes.
My eyes work just fine.
Just today when I made my way
Through the tall grass in the backyard
Behind the old cottage and the willow dragging her luscious green hair
In the beetle-dotted dirt
I saw the enormous spray of hidden dandelions, hundreds of them
And I gasped
Because they were the tears of the sun
Tears of a joy so intense it was accompanied immediately
By an outstanding pain
And I saw that the bees about my feet
Kissing and kissing those tiny brilliant flowers
Would take that saddened yellow joy and churn it
Into an unbelievable sweetness.
And this kissing and churning would be the good work of their lives.
And I saw too that they were teaching us
Right there, right in front of me
Right there at my feet
The bees were teaching us
How to live.
I Point to the Question
Why did the author
Show Emily’s response to the piano player?
I tap my finger loudly on the word ‘why’.
Knock knock knock on the little blue table
But Jacob is erasing a wayward letter b, its bubble
Of identity having been erroneously flipped
Into an errant d
And a new pile of erasure is joining the loose mound
Of extant pink stubble
By his elbow.
He begins to form, slowly
With his fingers, the soft bits together
Until they form a lung-colored fortress
Of confused and killed thoughts.
And quite to my surprise a tiny princess pokes her head
Out a window of this pinkish castle
And she sings and her voice
Is a lithium coated poppy that the boy licks like a lollipop.
My rapping on the little table only a muffled irritation now
As he rises easily out of his body and follows her.
And they float, Jacob and the princess
Of confusion and killed thoughts, right out
Of the school building, past the swing sets and
Into the swarth of pine trees behind the athletic field, fed
By the bitter minted breath of those trees and pulling
Into their smokish swirling song, as they travel, small tufts
Of last nights dreams from random townsfolk
A damaged memory fermenting
At the bottom of an empty tequila bottle purchased
At Mike’s Hard Liquors on Tuesday and chucked
Unceremoniously into Pilch’s field from a swerving car.
Mrs. Avery, who has been struggling with dementia
For some time, in her entirety, right off her couch
Blue housecoat and all.
And Jacob is cradling and humming quietly to the souls
Of two raccoons run over on Elm Street early this morning
The souls gravitating with a natural ease
Into that opiated itinerant cloud
Jacob stroking the silken, musky cheeks
Of what is left
Of the two small beasts.
Yes, yelling sometimes helps.
When I first started teaching
I thought I’d never yell at kids.
But that was before I knew that even if you warned them
Not to go into the woods
It may not do much good and
They might be buying the closest thing they can get
To the bitter breath of those trees years later
By the glass bottleful at Mike’s Hard Liquors.
Sitting on the bench outside
With Jim who lost his foot in the war and is always
Sitting on the bench outside Mike’s Hard Liquors.
Jim who still owns a cathode ray tube television
And who gives every single one of his words
To the princess of confused and killed thought
So that he simply opens the darkness of his mouth
And slowly lowers a bucket that returns only with an echo
Of some sick music, the sickness causing a pain
So deeply in your ears you feel that it is actually
Worming into the innermost wedge of your sane mind
Invoking questions that defy ratiocination and cause
Even in very small doses
Migraines and leaky gut.
So yelling, yes, and tapping
Forever tapping on the main point…did you know
That if you sat your whole life tapping on a single spot
On a table, eventually
The atoms would arrange themselves such
That for one brief moment
Your finger would simply pass right through surface
As if the table wasn’t even there.
It would happen so quickly you probably
Wouldn’t even notice.
Sometimes, in the middle of jabbing my finger
On a page--in my ridiculous brown velvet blazer
The armpits of which I’ve sweated to a blazing
Orange so that I can’t lift my arms or else reveal
The embarrassing discoloration—I’ll be filled
With such a longing for that sick sweet kingdom.
For the bottom of that bottle.
For that music that smells like warm tooth decay
And sogged melon wrapped in a chilled mint leaves.
The kingdom that sounds--if you give in to it entirely--not
Like pain and unanswerable questions
Everything at once
So that everything is finally
Canceled out into nothing.
It’s such an intense second of longing
That my body actually shakes
Like the chassis of an old car that can’t take the speed
And I’ll wonder
Is this the moment?
Because it feels so much like home.
And if it is home why must we be here
Full of overly festooned words and dreadful accountability?
In blazers, afraid to lift our arms?
Of course I see that we must, we must be here.
We must drag ourselves out of the forest.
We mustn’t drink ourselves to death.
We must live real and full lives.
But oh just once I’d like God to appear to me.
I’d like him to yell at me, disappear through the table
And show me the point.
Diana K. Malek is a teacher and tutor who lives in rural CT with her husband and dog. Her work has appeared this year or is forthcoming in Poetry Potion, 8 Poems, and Ligeia Magazine.