Squirrel Hill

“polishing the mirror of God
to see the great luminosity
shining through”
      — Meditation, after Rumi
Eyes of the author.

Christine Doreian Michaels

PHOTO: Christine Doreian Michaels

Christine Doreian Michaels came to Pittsburgh from England in 1971 and joined the Squirrel Hill Poetry Workshop in February 1984. A retired psychologist, she lives in Oakland, Pittsburgh. She was a member and word-weaver for Tea Time Ladies, a poetry performance group, in the 1990s. More recent publications can be found in Fission of Form and Labyrinth Pathways 2009, and a review in OUT. Earlier works can be found in Only the Sea Keeps: Poetry of the Tsunami; Along These Rivers; Voices from the Attic, volume XIII; The Exchange; No Choice but to Trust; Pittsburgh and Tri-State Area Poets; Taproots, Songs for the Living and the Pittsburgh Post Gazette.

Ode on Becoming

He massages me till I rise and fall,
elastic, malleable to any form. Splat! Spread-eagled
on the wheel I careen dizzily. Hands cup me,
counter the force, propel me to center.

I gyrate slowly, at peace. Here I would stay
but he presses down deep on the quick of my being,
stops in time, secures my ground. Knowing fingers draw
my trembling walls up, up. I fear collapse but he opens me
into my nascent shape, then pierces perfect circles
round the rim of my shivering, clothes my nakedness
in a robe of slip, trusts me to the kiln. Trial by fire.
No bubble breaks me. Earthen glaze enhances.

Beauty is truth, truth beauty....wrote the poet.
Can beauty bear the full weight of truth?

This vessel carries my sculptorís vision,
wires holes round my neck with old keys,
mislaid, forgotten, still to be found,
broken teeth in rough braces.

Beauty rests at my core.

Toddler in tow,
I canít retrace my steps.
You told me to meet you
at the Paris depot.

Our son falls into the Seine.
I jump in, swim for shore
with him in my arms.

Old men fishing from the pier
dry us in blankets.
I ask the way in broken French,
sign for a map.

It looks simple--
down this boulevard
turn left by the Madeleine,
but the road curves

I miss the turn
snow starts to fall.
I wake to a white world.
Grown children are coming
home for Christmas

except for one.
China Blue

Easter,you grace the Sanctuary, blue hydrangea,
mine to honor my father, not grieve a death.
After the service, only one plant remains,
drooping, no justice to the man who conjures
brilliance from black earth and small seeds.
I take you home, douse with water.

next day, like magic, you revive,
large, lush bloom brightly into May,
when my sisters call with news
of our fatherís death.

Time to dig a resting place,
add humus, water, tamp down.
Strong stems spring from the root,
blossoms varied as daughters.