Sunday Jun 23

SiegelMatthew Matthew Siegel is a poet and essay writer from New York living in San Francisco. He was a 2009-2011 Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford University and earned degrees from University of Houston and Binghamton University. Poems and essays have appeared in Indiana Review, The Journal, Mid-American Review,, and elsewhere. He teaches literature and writing at San Francisco Conservatory of Music and is a Contributing Editor at The Offending Adam. He is currently sending out his first poetry manuscript, Blood-knowledge.

On the way to the airport I fail to tell my father that I left some meat in the refrigerator.

Sirloin my mother cooked hastily for me
as I was packing up my things once again.
It dripped red as she pressed it to my lips
when I leaned down to kiss her goodbye.
I never knew watching someone eat
could be a kind of prayer, but she was praying
as I chewed whatever meat she gave me;
meat cooked while leaning on crutches,
still too much weight on her busted foot.
Kissing me goodbye she tried to stand
but wavered like a house being punished by wind,
a house stripped of shingles.
And my father pulls off into the gas station
to fill his empty tank. The flow of gas sounds
like the flow of blood. The same pressure.
The same insistence. The same rush and fill.

[When I first try to call her the phone rings and rings]

When I first try to call her the phone rings and rings
and the recorded voice that only resembles my mother
tells me she is unavailable. I know she is home
without power, unable to search the internet
for a job. Her sadness is a weight heavy as a car
and I lift using all my imagination. I say to her:
imagine your path in front of you lit with white light.
I say: picture yourself filing the bars of your prison-cell,
the filings covering your sweaty hands making them silver,
your arms silver, your face. She tells me a woman saw her crying
at the bus stop the other day, gave her a prayer in Spanish.
She tells me her friend the inn-keeper has a spare room
and could use some help in the garden. I say: picture your hands
in raw soil, the moist black kind with the white pellets.
Picture your hands planting flowers, red ones
and purple ones, blue ones and yellow ones.

The Girl Downstairs is Crying

The girl downstairs is crying and no
this is not about my mother, not at all,
as the sobs rise through the floor like
nothing else. The girl downstairs is crying
and I hear the echo of my mother's small room
miles away in New York, remember
how I heard her through my thickest sheets,
through the the fingers blocking my ears,
heard her rise, the tender nob of her body
turning and turning without opening any doors
to any place. Tonight I listen from my bed,
as if the girl's cries are a radio show in a language
I understand but cannot speak.
I fall asleep to the sound of a stranger's sobbing.
I'm home.