Two Poems by Skaidrite Stelzer

Shards
           (for Rane Arroyo)

1.

At your memorial service I discover
I don’t know how to ring a Buddhist bell.
Picking it up, I see it has no tongue.
Shaking will only cause silence.
It must be the stick beside it that sounds the note,
I assume, and so I try.

Inserting it, I strike within.
Small choked notes arise,
Spin and fall against each other,
The gurgle of a solipsist.

The next person strikes and it rings.
Of course, one must hit the outside,
Let the notes come free,
Not choke and hold there in the throat,

 

2.

On the tourist boat at the Kenai fjords
Nearing the glacier,
The microphone voice
Lectures about the density of ice
So compact it’s become a blue like no other.
Like the sky or turquoise gems, yet different.

“You think the ice is blue,” the voice says,
“Yet it isn’t.”

“Blue is the color the ice rejects,
So it will escape while all other colors remain.
Blue is the missing color.”

So I watch the iceberg calve,
Dropping shards in the sunlight.
I try to see them before the sound of thunder
Comes later through the waves.

The air turns my cheeks and nose red
As I watch for that exact last moment,
That final letting go.
Each fragment clinging,
Our minds now spinning,
As falling
We dance together
In the imaginary blue.

 

Inaugural

The woman holds my hand loosely as
if she would abandon me.
The bottom of her dress has big blue flowers
so I know she is not my mother.
There will be a new president, she says.
Different,
not one like I think.
(Who could chop off my hands
if I couldn’t talk right,
or maybe take away my skin.)

No. Like God, she hints.
Like the working hand
of the man who carves whistles
and feeds me peaches.
The sparkle of her eyes in the sun
is too bright.
I’ve never seen God.

The little man up there is him.
His head bobs in front of me
like a lost sea journey,
everything green rising in my stomach,
thrown overboard at last.
I cannot see the small man.

He will be president to me.
His hands will be soft,
his voice indifferent as rain.


Skaidrite Stelzer lives and writes in Toledo, Ohio. Growing up as a post-war refugee and displaced person, she feels connected to the world and other stray planets. Her poetry has been published in Fourth River, Eclipse, Glass, Baltimore Review, Flock, Storm Cellar, and many other literary journals.