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The Only Thing You Know


Go to the mat

and lie prostrate against

the cold winter within you


Go to the cathedral

eyes turned upward toward the light

streaming in through the glass mosaic

of Jesus tending sheep

knowing you will never feel his hand on you

as these sheep did long ago

and yet you stand

or kneel, hopeful,

for a different kind of touch

one that comes unbidden

melting muscles tight in your shoulders

muscles tight within your chest

heart beating slowly now

to the rhythm of your deepening breath


Go to the mountains

walking through pine trees

with your senses alert to some sign

that the spirits of the deep Earth

are listening

paying attention to the fall of humans

in the great cities and suburbs

hoping they will speak and tell you secrets

that you can tell your children

in the dark of night

when the wind swirls outside your window

and you doubt the rising

of the sun or

the coming of the Christ

though you never say this aloud


Go to the silence

for this is all you know to do

this is all the prophets and wise ones say to do


Go as if your life and

the lives of your children’s children

depended on it


go to the mat

to still your beating heart

because it is the only thing

you know you can do   

             ~ Michelle St. Romain Wilson

Consider the Crocus


I have seen the way

the crocus, hesitant and slight,

pokes its tiny petals

above the frozen ground


almost beyond belief

that something

so beautiful and bright

can appear in this

barest time of year


With precision to the calendar –

February – the cold, white month

of short, icy days

the crocus rises from a

winter sleep


and though it is easy to

stomp it back into the

frozen Earth

even without thinking

only from lack of practice

in the dark, frozen months

of caring for something

so delicate and beautiful


though it would be easy

to trample it without noticing

each time I see

these tiny golden petals

I halt, stunned by this simple act

of flower pushing again to the sun

(though it cannot see it through

winter clouds)


Stunned into silence

as I remember, again,

the flower must reach to the sky

and I, I must bow

to its body-wisdom

and reach again to the light

I cannot see

the light I do not always believe in

but which pulls me

hesitant, tiny, tender


beyond this frozen ground

beyond belief

surrendering to a body-wisdom

as ancient

as this Earth



to the light

I cannot see

        ~ Michelle St. Romain Wilson


After you

and the other girls

went missing

all that we had


was an aerial  photo

of your burned out school

How were you

a smart,

privileged girl

to know?

It was the dead of night

and at the time

your worst


was sitting


but it would become


it would become


it would become


It would even become


But Amina,

you’ve been found--



near the Sambisa Forest

and you tell us

how some

of the girls

have died,

but how most

have survived

in the depths

where the density  

of thorny bushes

and rubber,

black plum

and tamarind trees

have conspired

with the enemy

to keep them captive


Now, your hopes


to be


with your mother,

who has survived

your absence

and the passing

of your father.

You are hoping

that escaping

will be worth it--

that the community

will not

be hostile

or shun you

for bearing

a militant’s child

           ~ Alma Rosa Alvarez

The Poet Sees His Grandmother’s Face

My friend, Lawson,

a poet,

has not liked


He says that his poems

when they first arrive

come longhand.


they make it

to the typewriter

where in writing them

he taps out a rhythm

but this isn’t

what he likes

about typing.

What he likes

is how upon seeing

the words come up,

the typewriter


a sufficient pause

to think            or to whiteout.


Recently, Lawson

has discovered

the internet—

repository of facts

and a connection

to a story he knew

from a different angle

the story of a grandmother

sitting on the porch

of a home,

recovered after Internment.


What a surprise,
to see her face,

and it made

the seventy-something year old man


into the child

he was back then

and wonder

where he was

in relation to his grandmother.


His own parents

without a home

after camp

went to her place

and so the poet surmises

yes, there,

I must have been there

to the side of my grandmother

just outside

the scope of the lens.


And he smiles

to see her face

and at the knowledge

that through her

he knows his place.

                 ~ Alma Rosa Alvarez

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