Beth Winegarner is a poet, author and journalist living in San Francisco.
She is the author of the non-fiction book "Sacred Sonoma;"
of "Dream Brother," a chapbook of stories, poems and collages; of the
newly released "Read the Music," a collection of essays and articles on
music; and of the forthcoming novella "Beloved." In addition to working
as a full-time news reporter, she has freelanced for The San Francisco
Chronicle, Addicted to Noise, ROCKRGRL and Crescent Magazine. Her
poetry has appeared in Bardsong and Lime Green Bulldozers. For more
information, visit www.bethwinegarner.com.
Talking To Your Ghost
In my dream you are naked,
Trapped in a white room.
The weapon I give you has two blades and no handle
And is crumbling with rust.
Perhaps I have you cornered now,
Trapped and vulnerable.
Perhaps your weapons won't work on me anymore.
In the forest of my heart
I grafted your branches to mine,
Your trunks to my trunks.
Yes, I chose to mix them.
How was I to know that the grafts wouldn't take?
How was I to know that my choices would be
To let the trees wither, poisoned by foreign cells;
To painfully unwind the braided fibers, strand by strand;
Or to burn the forest to the ground?
Some days, it is all I can do
Not to hold a seance
So that I can talk to your dead self --
That part of you drowned by fear and grief,
Abdication and guilt --
That part of you I still glimpse
In late afternoon's light, shining,
Showering the land with gold.
The Lily Field (night)
I close my eyes
and in the pleasure darkness
lilies glowing white
bend their heavy heads in an unfelt breeze.
Behind them a single wing
its owner hidden in the night garden.
My blood is so strong now,
my heart so quick
the lilies' scent consumes me
and I become that which is concealed
by their fragrant limbs.
Ghost In My Belly
Sap rising in my veins
I step out the door
The wind lifts my hair,
Blows the fog from the pines.
I do not walk to lose this ache
I do not walk to find you.
I walk to carry the feeling, only mine,
Like a ghost in my belly.
The farther I go, the heavier it grows.
Maybe it began with the day in the orchard touching him
Or the afternoons in his bed letting the pain be love
Wanting to tear my insides out
Wanting to die from the neck down
Wanting to hide in the tall weeds
Wanting to walk this sorrow until it curled up
I see their faces in the trees
In these cold green valleys
I am alone with the guitars in my ears
Every note a different lank-haired boy
I wished would hold my hand
And walk me home.
Daddy, I've been looking for you
in every man I've been through
in the spiritless skeins of their iron veins
and their heart-woods that I've traveled through.
Daddy, I bet you never knew
that I saw myself unearthing you
in their bellowing trumpets and radiant lies
and their bristling armories, too.
Oh, but I never found you
and none of the others would do
not their barren love-charms nor reach of their arms
nor their brokenness worn like tattoos.
No, Daddy, none of them knew
and nothing about them was true
not their storm-ridden eyes nor their leased lullabies.
There's a man they could never outdo.
So, Daddy, I'm coming. For you.
I am standing on the shore watching you drown.
You are howling, full-bellied, for help
and swallowing water.
Even from this distance I can see
you're turning blue and your arms are growing weak.
I have thrown you a thickly woven rope,
which you said was the wrong sort.
I floated you a life vest
and you said it wouldn't fit
(without trying it on).
I sent coast guard ships to your aid
and you claimed they were making the waters
so rough that you couldn't swim.
Now you tell me I must do the job myself.
I know if I go to you,
you would cling to me,
binding my arms,
and we would both sink.