conflict with a god by María Luisa Arroyo

for Lucie Brock-Broido

I find it
in the cupboard
above the stove

it sits behind
the gluey
jug of syrup

it hides behind
the yogurt container
of congealed lard

the apple welded
to the saucer
resists my pull

the apple sticks with honey,
its slightly puckered skin
still intact

—a healthy shrunken head—
the sliced top tied
with a red satin ribbon

I untie,
lift to look
and see pennies

strong hands
jerk me off the chair
“¡Dejaste salir a los espíritus malos!”

pero, mami,
there are no such things
as bad spirits,
are there?

Affirmation by Donald Hall

To grow old is to lose everything.

Aging, everybody knows it.

Even when we are young,

we glimpse it sometimes, and nod our heads

when a grandfather dies.

Then we row for years on the midsummer

pond, ignorant and content. But a marriage,

that began without harm, scatters

into debris on the shore,

and a friend from school drops

cold on a rocky strand.

If a new love carries us

past middle age, our wife will die

at her strongest and most beautiful.

New women come and go. All go.

The pretty lover who announces

that she is temporary

is temporary. The bold woman,

middle-aged against our old age,

sinks under an anxiety she cannot withstand.

Another friend of decades estranges himself

in words that pollute thirty years.

Let us stifle under mud at the pond’s edge

and affirm that it is fitting

and delicious to lose everything.

When I am dead, my dearest by Christina Rossetti

When I am dead, my dearest,
Sing no sad songs for me;
Plant thou no roses at my head,
Nor shady cypress tree:
Be the green grass above me
With showers and dewdrops wet;
And if thou wilt, remember,
And if thou wilt, forget.

I shall not see the shadows,
I shall not feel the rain;
I shall not hear the nightingale
Sing on, as if in pain:
And dreaming through the twilight
That doth not rise nor set,
Haply I may remember,
And haply may forget.