by Jane Butkin Roth
I am the rock that centers you, or holds you down. A weight around your neck. The thorn in your side. Dirt under your nails.
I get down and dirty and play any game you wish. And rock-paper-scissors until the day you die. I am a stick. An easy frame, a lanky, boyish figure. I am the narrow waist you want your arms around. I am thick as a tree and celebrate my bulk. My ampleness invites you to rest or play, run wild, explore. Invade all my private branches. I will not break.
I am weightless as clouds, the whisper you strain to hear. A feather that prickles your spirit. I am your native dress, the color of dreams. Of drumbeats. Your sleeping breath. I am a sneeze. Giggles you try to stifle. Lint on your shirt. Drool down your chin. I am the dregs in your coffee. And in the morning--I am your first sweet taste.
I am your very bad day. A headache. I am the force to be reckoned with. I am the kiss of the moon, and the softest blanket of sunlight. I am the familiar face at the party, the one who makes you glad you came. I am the face that turns you away, in shame. I am your angel. I will guide and keep you.
I am all your ancient words, the wisdom of the sages. I am the parchment which contains them. I am a neat package, I am. Your chaos, regrets. Tasks left undone. I am the tongue held too long and I am the tongue that's been agging. I am the hands holding in your circle. The kick and scream of every struggle. I am your storm, rising. And I am the peace which comes when I knock on your door.
I am the undiscovered secret of your universe. Your ride not yet taken. I am the bridge that will carry you from here to there.
Jane Butkin Roth's works of fiction, essays and poetry have appeared in over
seventy publications, including The Windsor Review, Limestone Circle, Pearl,
Rattle, the Houston Chronicle newspaper, the Owen Wister Review, Essential
Love (an anthology on the parent/child bond), Writing for our Lives, Jewish
Women's Literary Annual, Poets Market 1999, Lilliput Review, Maelstrom,
Pleiades, The Old Red Kimono, and ArtWord Quarterly.
Roth feels poetry harnesses the essential moments of everyday living, in all
their simplicity, wonder, confusion, joy, sorrows and intricacies--and gives
them voice--even lives--of their own. Inspiration for poems comes from
strange and mysterious places--from fragments of conversations, losses and
celebrations, observations, or from another dimension she doesn't understand,
but gratefully accepts. A native Oklahoman, Roth lives in Houston with her
three children, who provide the most profound inspiration of all.
E-mail Jane at: IMJane@aol.com