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Sample Poems by Liza Hyatt

Give Me

Give me wild roses.
I will hang them from rafters,
as if the sky is a garden
growing down to us,
dying in mid-blossom.

Give me irises, morning glories,
purple alfalfa, hyacinth.
I'll press them, tear them,
paste petal scraps
to mosaic a lost summer night.

Give me a body whose blood
is warmer than poppies in sun,
whose cells are
bits of earth glued together.

Give me a shadow.
Wherever I walk I will find discarded things
and my shadow will pick them up -
a blue-green marble,
broken robin shells,
glass made of ashes,
gutterfuls of crabapple pink.
I will bring these home,
arrange them in a wicker basket,
never throw them away.

Give me a road that twists backward
while going forward, a journey
toward what I am trying to flee.
In the future, I will come to my childhood,
take from my mother's bureau
a ring box holding baby teeth,
traces of blood still on them.

Give me the middle of the world.
I'll walk to the silted river and
hunt for fossils from the Mesozoic sea.

Give me muddy boots and flying dreams.
I won't weed the garden or clean the house.
I hide snakeskin and lady-slippers in the Bible.
Come winter I will seek the rainbows which endure
in the sheer wings of cicada and housefly corpses
strewn on never-dusted windowsills.

Give me memories that can't be forgotten.
Give me a coffin and give me a star.
In an empty drawer lined with silk,
I keep a swallowtail that died wings spread.
Sometimes I put it in my palm,
let go, watch it glide.

Give me the world
where no one knows what happens to life as it dies.
I cry for newborn birds wind-dashed to pavement.
I sing inside the black caves of hollow trees.

Give me today as it turns into tomorrow.
The summer leaves are beginning to dry,
turn sanguine and fall
and I am outside,
gathering them up,
binding them back on the trees.


Leaves and wings and wind


dreams breaching in the wake of living
white boats on turquoise water
voyages on which I return alone


We live forgetting


and gathering.
I will be gathering new ones
on the day I die.


I am far too young to have sailed here by myself,
(but no one else in my family remembers)
this boat-ride in the shining world,
the house of white marble at day's end,
the Ave Maria of willow and wind

and I am welcomed here at once
at the beginning of my life
and given a nightgown
woven from the day, the colors

jade and light-in-water,
the longing to return,
a music-box that plays the song in that longing.


Leaves and wings and wind,
and every moment, leaning


this morning's moon
yesterday's kiss


Years after parting, I say to my first lover,
"The moment I've returned to, over and over again,
was when you said that our love
would make the world a more sacred place."
And he answers,
"I don't remember saying that at all."


dreams breaching in the wake of living
white boats on turquoise water
voyages on which I return alone


Four years old,
I sit on the washing machine,
banging its clean white metal
with my red sneakered feet,
watching them fly up and down at my bidding,

and then suddenly I see those same sneakers
flying across leaf-strewn grass,
myself in them, and I am in
two places at once -
the warm, clean laundry room of now
and the wet, windy, corduroy morning of before.

Scared, I ask my mother,
"A picture that moves and smells . . .
my sneakers . . . running . . . falling in leaves?"
as she folds the dryer-warm pants
that I am also wearing,
making them wet-hemmed and muddy-kneed,
in an otherworld life-inside-life.


This world


this world so full of loss was


forgotten, gathered, lost, kept:
running through wet grass
this morning's fading moon
yesterday's defiant kiss

ripples that curve around tiny grains of sand
mapping out the contour of the entire shore


mud imprinted by life and death:
the fossils of ginkgo leaves


and wings
and wind
and every moment's leaning


While, again and again,
sudden bits of time-pigment -
forgotten, gathered, lost, kept -
a dusting of color, a hint of perfume,
a broken shard of loving -
bob up on turquoise waves,
part flesh, part soul-skin, part story.


Scared, I ask, and luckily she understands
and answers, "That's a memory"
in a voice that assures me
I've just discovered
a very ancient inheritance.


This world so full of loss was
and is
far more sacred
than any world we ever wished for.


Here, where every moment
leans into its own extinction.


this morning's defiant moon
yesterday's fading kiss
songs that sail on longing
leaves and wings and wind