Poems from Flower Map

Flower Map

The flamboyant tree is my sign:
turn towards the path
hidden by jasmine.

A black bird accompanies me
past fronds
and thorns
the gates a mosaic of longing.

Peeling trees
reveal layers of green maroon bark
Yes, this is the path.

Are those frangipani, flowers falling
inverted onto the sidewalk
a core of yellow? Magenta

bougainvillea
spills out over the roof
lush and wild in its joy.

San Juan 2010

Note: This poem was published previously in Popt Art.


Fibonacci* flowers

There is a pattern to petals
1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13
Each number combining
to add up to the next

Seeking symmetry
in geometry’s garden
I count petals
rain pelting the clematis
Random, not random, random

The numbers echo
in the tail of a salamander

From fiddlehead ferns
to the spiraling chambers of the nautilus
our world is full of echoes

*In mathematics, the Fibonacci sequence refers to the numbers 0, 1, and each subsequent number thereafter which is the sum of the previous two.


Island Cities

The silence between us is eloquent and fluid,
like a river between two cities.

Each word a touchstone
an arrow, a shiver, spanning two cities.

The night is moonless,
an amber light washes over our cities.

How many stars remain,
my giver of stars, between our cities?

Through the jasmine scented night
there is a quiver inside our cities.

So many miles and mines and nights
in the path hither between our cities.


The creation of turquoise

The creation of turquoise
It didn’t happen all at once
the elders would say later
then again, it seldom does

Every creation is intentional
even destruction can take its time,
rather it was the inexorable
chipping away of the sky
one kernel at a time
small fragments of
rupture, rapture
and when the sky touched the earth
the impact created
veins in the stone
so each turquoise would tell the story
of sky and earth colliding

Note: The creation of turquoise was previously published in The Muddy River Poetry Review.


Apple Orchard

We ladder up into the crown
of the tree, skyward
on wooden ladders

Beholden to the rain and light
for the apples their purple dust
on dusky red
their splattering of stars

This longing to cradle
the apples, the trees, my daughters
back when they ran through orchards
up grafted limbs and branches

Heart to heart, the cortlands grow in pairs
as doubles. The sign says
“Use both hands to pick both apples, at the same time”

The apples fall into my open palms
this tugging of heart, this twisting apart


How to make challah

Begin with the biggest bowl you have,
let it be large enough to contain your whole week.
You will need to wrestle with angels.

Begin in the place of knowing,
the place that venerates.
Summon stillness, kavannah.

In the smallest nesting bowl,
proof the yeast in lukewarm water.
Remember that you are proof.

Let the fragrance of yeast envelop you,
rain, wet earth, fecund.
Now, trust.

Measure 7 or 8 cups of flour,
challah is not precise.
Notice the flour cloud.

Make a well.
A deep well to contain the grief.
Pour the yeast water into the well.

Let it seep in.
Add 3 eggs and 3 tablespoons of oil.
Take off your rings.

Plunge.
Pound.
Let the dough silence your rage.

Pour yourself into the challah,
filament and fractal
fingertip and phial.

Now walk away.
Give it a few hours to grow.
Let it rise.

When you return, let the growth surprise you.
Add raisins, golden and black.
Summon helpers to braid.

Take a tiny marble of dough,
set it apart
to recall loss, sadness.

Braid as if this is your last act.
Round, double braid, single braid.
Trust completely, irrevocably, let go.

After the braids have doubled in size,
entrust them to the oven
under a coat of egg wash.

Let the aroma
permeate your village
with the smell of rest and kindness.

Bring forth the challah
with both hands
Let the heat radiate.

Just as the poet unleashes the poem,
so will you clear a path
towards home.

This poem was previously published in JewishBoston.com


Written on Skin

In cursive and script your kiss
Is indelibly written on skin.

Even now, the cut from your birth
Echoing the rain is written on skin.

The numbers from a time of horror
Are held written on skin.

Just as the rings record the age of the tree
My ages and years are written on skin.

The wood from the forest for the violin
Its music etched in wood, written on skin.

The parchment of history of storied sacrifice
Is written on hides, written on skin.

The newspaper stories of massacre
Collapse and famine are written on skin.

Gems and facets etched in stone
Hidden in garments, written on skin

Your touch on my earlobe, fingerprints on my face
Words and deeds unbidden, written on skin.

The phrase “Written on Skin” is the title of an opera by George Benjamin.


The Map of Amber

The sap has hardened and trapped these traces
All manner of petals, insects and places

Each of these spaces and countries
Has marked you with its indomitable places

Held in the amber are remnants
Filaments of flowers from unknown places

The leavings of the frozen sea
Antenna hair and wood fruit from buried places

Know that you hold and carry
All of the countries, scars and places

All of the faces are reflected here
The dark and light of the translucent places

In my smooth surface with its liquid landscape
Bee stings are buried in forgotten places


You as a forest

I listen to the shelter of you

the sweeping canopy cradling the day

and night of me

the moon rising in your branches

the stars falling into the sweep of your hair.

I see the feet of your forest

the fingers, the limbs

the concave and convex of you,

the light that falls around us.

I smell your scent of maple,

fern, ivy

 

The light serpentine

falling through the rings

of redwoods.

Flower Map - poetry by Deborah Leipziger
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