Lailah Dainin Shima

Hey, Sweetie One February dawn,a frozen lake tiltstoward a persimmonsun. Light breaksin icy shards, landingon still standingmilkweed and thistleflaring saffron, nowgold, now blue-white.My hand rises to blockthe sun, as if to bluntthe ache of seeing, butlight insists its waythrough skin andblood, glowing bone.In dead of winter,as a chickadee singsits spring hey-sweetiesong, I can’t keepdreaming my selfa shadow adrift,all the while I turnand turn towardthe light that remainsunhindered, still.

In Praise of Dirty Socks Say what you wantto stay and never fade,never perish. Choose blooming limb or seckel pear,loon wail or cello suite,defense or embrace, hungryor sated, in-breath or out-. I consider my daughter’s socksstrewn on the sofa. Thick cotton.Pink with gold-threaded hearts.Dingy soles. Rank. Back when chemo pinned melike a butterfly, too nauseous to nag,she cleaned her things meticulously,like saying a spell, like making a wish. How she forgets.How I strain to remember. How the empty armsof this couch would ache,if illness or violencewould still her. Now the socks draped herequiet my mind, as morning windchurns, ferrying amber leaves.

Opening the Gift On the eveof my birth-day, a full moon slips overthe front door,as I follow my dog outside.Do I daretake it all in? Whereare the flood-gates to open— in the fivemillion poresof my skin? In the spacefilling myatoms? Where is all this lightnot alreadypouring? For decades,I delayedcelebrating my life, waitingfor some badge,some love. If only I unhingethis grip on mythat phantommoat— light floods life.

A mystified mother of teens, bumbling practitioner of Zen, and aspiring hospice chaplain, Lailah Dainin Shima lives and writes in Wisconsin. Her poems have appeared in One Art Poetry, CALYX Journal, and Intima: A Journal of Narrative Medicine.