Poem in Response to Crossing the Lines: Stories by Tony Press (from my fourth and final poetry collection, ANCHORHOLD, forthcoming later this year)
quotations in the final stanza are lines and titles from stories in Crossing the Lines (Big Table Publishing, 2016); the epigraph from Rumi appears in “Two Days from the Sea”
This human being is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
There is a narrows where the stories merge,
a confluence of parables where the lessons
all converge. It doesn’t matter, once they’re
gathered, where each of them began, upon
which of faith’s many mountains they had
their origins. The gorge’s walls are birth and death.
Between them: all our days.
Upon the cliffs there hangs a mist, a cloud of
swaddling, a shroud, suspended droplets.
Fragments of the lessons permeate our days,
our every moment. Aware or unaware, we
take them in: we breathe.
There is a narrows in our windpipes where
the stories merge, the nitrogen and consonants,
the vowels and the verbs. In the alveoli, all
the words we’ve heard are filtered, membranes
customs where each passport’s checked,
each visa is reviewed:
only preauthorized molecules get through.
In theory. But the confidence we have in our
security, methods, systems, preconceptions often
fails to consider that, we too, are made
of water, all of our cells are immigrants, all
of them were something, someone, somewhere
else before. And no system of filtration
can expect complete success when it is
striving to keep kin from kin.
It is Not Fifth Avenue. We are never more
than Two Days From the Sea. “Tomorrow,
if it be granted to me, I will see my
friends again at our café,” and Jake will tell me,
“Just sip it slow, mi amigo.”
–Laura M Kaminski
If you haven’t read CROSSING THE LINES, you can check it out here.