Marika's Poems

Marika's Poems

Bird Familiars

Birds from nowhere deliver you to me.
The day after you stopped living
a purple finch perched on the grapevine wreath
on my door--my zero-shaped portal to the world.
He craned his neck to peer in, beady-eyed,
doing your impression of that high school teacher
named Mr. Finch, drawling "Any others?"
as though I might follow you.

When I fled to the beach a week later
the first Wilson's Warbler I'd ever seen
flung himself against the motel window
again and again, your spirit chauffeured to me
in the spaces between taxicab yellow and black feathers.
Each time he hit the glass he'd swoop away for another try,
pounding the hard barrier between us.

Now when I walk around the lake you loved
the gray geese stand silent as I pass.
They remember how some days
you could hardly make it around the track
and some bitter days, impatient, I moved
ahead at my own healthy pace.
These gray emissaries could take a message to you
but all I can think of is the sound geese make
when they ferry souls over the house
braying into the night.


In a marriage with the dead I don't buy groceries.
I dine only on the brilliant indifference of God.
Longing, I smell the hard light of eternity
and float into the sun, only to crash home
weighed down by self and bone.

Wind blossoms my thundered ashes into the air.
Every snowflake is a prayer, each raindrop a stone.
Night erases me.

In a marriage with the dead I don't keep house.
Everything that touched my love made dust.
Atoms from his lungs and skin
blanket our domestic dream with gray.

Pennies from his pockets molder in a jar.
A hamper hoards the perfume of his unwashed clothes.
His razor in a drawer shows me his sweet
outstretched neck, pursed lips,
and the hairs he always missed.

Moths chew the hearts out
of uncooked meals in jars
labeled in his handwriting.

I cannot empty and erase.
I cannot push the dust aside.

Night Visit

The jaguar of crooked dreams
licks me awake and grows fat
on my succulent weeping.

I should have been happy
for my husband's night visit but his dream self
was sick and slow and stubborn in love
as though he'd never left.
Memories pierce my neck. I bleed
to give him shadow life,
to stop me from sainting him
and taming the sorrow
seven years of illness brings.

Even more cruel, to dream of him beautiful,
a man not needing me anymore
and not giving me his good soul light.

Wardrobe Problems

I didn't know how much I wanted you to come back
until I dreamed you standing in the bathroom
shaving with the razor I still keep in the drawer.
Over the buzz, you thanked me
for keeping your favorite shirts in the closet
for your impromptu visits.

I didn't have the heart to tell you
that I'd discarded all your underwear.
There are widows all over town
who have done the same.
For those who weren't the type to go without,
we'll have to start a support group
for ghosts without underwear.

Marika's husband died at age of 34 of complications due to AIDS.
Marika's e-mail address

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