So May All Poems Bear Fruit

I turn to Hikmet's, "The Cucumber,"
charmed by his clear eye and clearer spirit
but—halfway through the Moscow snow, bathed
by the green sun of his words—I remember
the cucumber I picked for you this day: young, tender,
hidden   beneath the trellis of spatulate leaves.

It was a firm, completed thing, yet yellow-white
underneath from lack of sun, and I placed it
on a river rock in my flower bed: a half-green
message   to the stars. I set it there to soak
in the day's heaviest light, so it might drink deeply
and perfect itself—that greenness might favor it entirely—

but only as I leaf through Hikmet's poems
am I brought back to the still fruit   awaiting my attention:
your gift forgotten this summer afternoon, forgotten
but now remembered.

For My Son
For Marlene San Miguel Groner

Spring rain has such a dark cold tongue,
yet it speaks in fire. Friend, you dreamed
I had a son—how did you know this longing,
so deeply held, that I yearned to give back
gentleness to existence, that a passion
lived inside me and held me close?

You dreamed I spoke with my son,
the two of us embracing, held fast
by some ghostly light, and you could see
from the way we leaned into each other
like two dark green flames that tendrils
of rain and lightning reached between us.


Un-child of my blood, this life's bright
reminder that a man may nurture and reap
praise, that his days might be filled
to surfeit with small pleasures—your father
blesses the muscled tautness of your body,
your powerful and steady heart.

Each year, you would love more deeply
and risk more. You would yield to the strength
of others and grow strong. Your hands
would be rough from working with the earth,
fingers of iron that arouse and soothe.
You would touch life's broken face with them.


My son, we would gaze skyward
on nights that shook us back to an age
of priests and shamans, naked and painted,
alive to the cries of the gods . . .
The sweat of our dancing bodies would be sweet
to us, the night's fires and songs

would be sweet to us, the arms of women
would be sweet to us, the soft hair
on our children's skulls would be sweet
to us. We would dance the songs, would sing
the dances. The fiery darkness would speak
to us. We would chant the names of the stars.


Today the sun came back and called us:
out of our rainy nights, out of our dark thoughts
and painfully bright rooms, called us to this beachy
wood, all the trees on fire with autumn, the first flashes
of orange, grasses webbed with seeds. Here
we can be free—the ordinary world   turned over.


Rest. By this gently pulsing water,
lie back and dream . . . The goldenrod seethes
like a storm-cloud of butterflies, and the blue sky drifts,
defining and deepening perfection. We lie back,
on the cut track of stubble, at ease in the undertow
that pulls us down to sleep.


Deep into the sea’s planet, egrets fly over, flaunting
their stylish black feet—à la mode in the salt marsh.
Merlins and sparrow hawks plunge into the trees
beneath the highest branches. Mergansers and grebes
flush from the breaks at each step. Our softest whisper
scatters songbirds.

Let us be quiet. Let us go deeper into the rushes.

Copyright © 2005 Charles Fishman

Charles Fishman is Director of the Distinguished Speakers Program at Farmingdale State University, Associate Editor of The Drunken Boat, & Poetry Editor of New Works Review. His collection of poems, The Death Mazurka, was nominated for the 1990 Pulitzer Prize & his anthology, Blood to Remember: American Poets on the Holocaust (1991), was a groundbreaking work in the field. His most recent collections are Country of Memory and 5,000 Bells, both 2004.