My daughter has reached that age
when her body unfurls
gospels of growth all night,
psalms filled with arm, leg, hair, sweat,
breath staled by the tilt
from girl to woman. She will soon
inherit gifts. Blood. Ovum. Creation.
Then she will be lost to me. Gone
on a long journey across desert, mountain,
to a distant Bethlehem.
This December, she tells my wife
she doesn’t believe in caribou
flying over glacier, tundra. Questions
things like seraphim choirs,
kingdoms at the North Pole,
donkeys that sing “Dona nobis pacem”
on the winter solstice. I know,
she says, nods as if she’s accomplice
to some divine conspiracy theory.
So I write her this poem
about last Friday, when twenty inches
of snow fell in Cairo, Alexandria,
Jerusalem. Brought the entire Middle East
a silence it hadn’t heard in 112 years.
Children in refugee camps danced
in the blizzard, made rosefinches
with ice bodies, palm frond wings.
No bombs. No bullets. Just white.
Everywhere. White upon white.
From the Mediterranean to the Mount of Olives.
Martin Achatz is a husband/father/teacher/musician/poet who lives in Ishpeming. His work has appeared in Paterson Literary Review, The Other Journal, and The Macguffin, among others. He’s currently serving his second term as Poet Laureate of the Upper Peninsula and teaches in NMU’s English Department.
Excerpted with permission from the Winter 2020-2021 issue of Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine. Copyright 2020, Empowering Lightworks, LLC. All rights reserved.