How many words for blue are there
in your language? I answer this as if
I know – blue sky, blue feeling, blue
eye. I want to know the word for blue
in Swahili, in Russian, in Arabic.
I want to taste and breathe it, drink
from its tenderness and power. I wonder
if Gauguin understood blue differently
in Tahiti? I suspect that blue stretched his
mind and cast him out of the prism where
he knew the ache of too-blue.
And the Navaho? What does blue mean
to them? They live in the blue light of red
where shadows cannot bear the blackness
and so–and so, people of the desert
see Ravens in their true color, the blue-
black of all beginning.
by Dean LaTray and Persis Karim 3/1/17
Gather your friends, gather yourselves, every
breath of you is needed for the long
dark winter opening before you.
Your open eyes must open wider
to see the light piercing the small
crack in your broken heart.
turn toward those you love
and toward those you do not know
for never did we need a stranger’s
kindness more than in this instant.
(November 9, 2016)
by Persis Karim — for my fellow human beings everywhere
I love the wind–
its breath in my hair,
its fingers on my back,
the sound of it in trees
or at the edge of the sea.
I love the wind more
than anything I cannot see.
The Wind in April
The strong wind pushes and whips
a dragonfly far from water
I nearly step on its glassy wings
but the light of its shimmer catches my eye
I lift and hold its delicateness
in the palm of my aging hand
the black veins of its travels
the circuitry of its flight
are transparent in each flutter
I set it in a tree to recover
hoping the camouflage of its invisibility
will save it from another injury
so that it take off and alight again
and find its way back to the mirror
of itself on the shore. (persis karim)
At 21, you might have taken the world
into the folds of your arms, held it softly
like a baby, or flexed your muscles
and hurled it into space, like the fire
of your bright-burning. No one knew
what the stars held for you, no one
could have held you back in the brilliance
of your life. You were a boy, a man becoming,
taken from us far too soon,
in the days and months when love
enfolded you, when forgiveness
rested in the back of your throat,
your soul entered that other realm.
These days, we live through long days
of absence, days that lead us
to months, and now, five years
of them, filled with
wondering who you might be . . .
how you’d come through the front door,
how you’d tell me about your day, maybe
even debate about things
we both thought important.
How you’d advise your brother
or rub your father’s shoulders,
or share some secret
of your feelings, or hold back
and wait for an opening
between us. These days the wondering
about who you might
be, how you might answer
the call of your life leaves me
with more questions
and the unhealing bruise
of not knowing.
with immense love, Persis
I. all day the clouds heave
each hopeful moment I wait
but not one drop falls
II. birds rest on wires
waiting for the rainstorm too
III. even without rain
these clouds, a glorious show
closing in on light
the tree has no need for patience
she lives in the enormity of seasons
the language of water and sun
the rhythm of wind and clouds
provokes her tiny seed, tests
the sapling of her attitude
marks her with bent time
and heavy limbs and lighting
strikes that scorch her nearly
every two years in August
no need for patience at all
just the endurance of roots
and relation to all things
that announce themselves
whether she listens or not.
Native walnut, Berkeley backyard. Persis Karim
Tree in Morning light, Bathroom Window, Los Angeles.
Los Angeles downpour, Arden Boulevard, Los Angeles, Persis Karim.
Ask the river anything
and the answer will always
be the same: give me water.
I cannot bear to be
a river that does not live
up to its name.
photo: Persis Karim