‘Two Wooden Bowls’ and other poems by Mila Kette

River

My conscience is fluid. I am river.
I flow between sandy shores, embrace swimmers
and suicides alike, boats and birds, gazing eyes.
The bellies of boats touch my surface, cut through my body.
I kiss lost ribbons brought to me by seagulls;
I hear their chatter, know their secrets.
The wind sings me verses and tales of land,
parts of me capriole into the air in dramatic symphonies.
Geese bequeath me their feathers, which slip to the bottom
of my mysterious liquid world;
with stones, glass, and mud I build castles.
I journey in silence, caressed by weeping willows,
stroke their roots and learn the secret of their tears.
Birds dive into my waters and emerge with fish—
they carry liquid bits of me to faraway lands …
Sometimes the moon covers me with a cold silvery film,
she writes strange messages in my scintillations—I can’t read them!
Sun sinks its multicolored fingers into me
painting fish, sand, and swimmers radiant.
Small chunks of land fall into my liquidness;
they make my way larger, more powerful—I enjoy my brawn!
Desperate trees, roots exposed for a moment,
disappear forever: I keep sculptures the world will never see.
Every drop from the sky returns to complete me.
Solitude is full of grass and stones, and then I rush into a lake…
my awkward ballet is over.
When I meet its cold, blue undulations,
we melt into each other’s differences.
It draws me in with a spasmodic motion, a whirlpool of bits and pieces.
We now are one: I lost my origin, the lake forgot its limitedness.

(Featured in 44839: Poetry from a Zip Code 2017 and Heartlands Magazine, Volume 5. Winner of the annual 44839 Huron Poetry Contest.)

 

To the Things I Left Behind

I would like to remember everything I once had,
things untold just possessed.
Things kept at the other side of the sea.
Objects of color and contour, density, finity.
They live in each blink of my eyelids,
they remain in each one of my pores,
in the air that runs out from my lungs.
Things are the object of simple needs,
coveted parts of dreams and suffering.
Things cover the body in a coffin,
remain, perish, are forgotten and make dust.
A watch, a ring forgotten in a public restroom.
The shoes so tight on my feet–but blue and pretty!—
Short skirt, vanished shirts of sunny summers.
My dolls in the arms of street children—
They found a different love in sad eyes,
and my daughter caressed new dolls she has forgotten.
A pillow, mattress made of grandmother’s sighs,
chenille spreads on beds like ice cream,
Whipped cream–I lay my body and dream…
I see my life from the little dark eyes:
My childhood, a baby holds a rag doll, Lili.
I’m holding Lili in my arms, so tight!
Her company takes me through the darkest night,
the scent from her hair I can still smell,
the smoothness of her little body against mine.
Lili: in which part of this planet
Did your soft body make a flower grow?

(Featured in 44839: Poetry from a Zip Code 2017.)

 

Me

What am I but a grouped,
stacked sense of things past,
actions left undone, unbuttoned
blouses hanging on the clothesline
left to dry a memory long gone.
From the future yet to come
a few moments wait to be,
but still part of me,
of what I have not yet done.
And from everything left,
from the ones who are gone
the letters they sent me,
their presence in the car beside me,
some part remains and becomes
what I never knew I would be.
You know everything there is
to know about me,
for I am a part of everything
and everyone is a part of me.

(Featured in 44839: Poetry from a Zip Code 2017.)

 

Hummingbird Soul

I know a man whose soul
is like a hummingbird.
He touches others so quietly
with strength yet so strong
it overcomes them with love.
With eyes ashine this radiant soul,
hovering gently here and there,
spreads sweetness lavishly
opening the petals of our hearts.
Soft is his tread on Earth
that disturbs it so very little,
like delicate wings whirling
words and verses into life.

The early dawn finds him,
with pencil poised in hand,
ready to let his heart guide words
onto the pages of our lives.
And thus we learn of love and God,
of soldiers, births, and joy,
of mothers and autumn leaves,
all mingled into a song that echoes
our walk into his world, although
some of us will never meet him.

(Featured in 44839: Poetry from a Zip Code 2018 and written in honor of Huron Poet Laureate Robert Reynolds.)

Two Wooden Bowls

On the top of the chest of drawers, they sit,
the small atop the bigger wooden bowl, oblong both,
as feathers, light material, hand-carved, reminiscent of another world.
The wheels cross the distance between the asphalt and the shoulder,
dust floats on the air breeding with the rays of a sunny afternoon.
A little wooden shack, miserable, piles of wooden bowls around,
slices of fresh curled wood, like snowflakes, fill the floor
crawling around unfinished bowls, as chicks around their mother.
Behind the shack, the mountains spread their perfume
a river crosses down at the valley. Then we see the man.
Dark thick hair, shy, awkward gesture from artistic hands
an Indian-European model for Velasquez, light darkness drama.
The lines in his face, his aquiline nose, black eyeballs lowered,
thick eyebrows defend him from the look of strangers.
His lightly curved back anatomically prepared to accept the chore,
the chisel born in these calloused industrious hands of his.
Bony volumes in his stretched tanned body forms a sculpture
the fabric carves its texture in dirty lines and swirls across the volumes.
He could have been a Ramses, his strong profile defying the horizon,
he was the man who simply carved light pieces of wood. Simple.
No majestic Ramseic sandals stepping on the dry soil, no stony pectoral,
just the curved backed rough being, no more than what he was. Simple.

The sound of car doors slamming, words, dirty children’s silhouettes,
a pile of freshly carved bowls holds the air around them
exhibiting their light rough skin, tempting, pale, primitive, pure.
The man’s hands are dirty, dark. He is not literate.
He doesn’t know he’s an artist or where America is
he just sits and carves wooden bowls;
art flows from his hands as water from the spring down to the valley.
The artist is a man who doesn’t know what an artist means.
The man, the artist, needs to feed his children.

Two wooden bowls sit on my lap as the car gains distance.
I feel as if I carry this man’s children and I speak softly
only they can hear my whispering “there, there.”
Only they can hear the artist’s thoughts they carry.
They will go to a far land, they will cross rivers and mountains,
there, where the sun shines in different angles,
there, where the words have different meanings and tastes.
The two wooden bowls will sit inside each other as if they speak
and finally, they will both find comfort in their oblong, concave contact,
and they will look for acceptance from the chest drawer,
there, where they can’t understand the language spoken.

(Featured in The Heartlands Today: A Life’s Work and The Best of Heartlands: Selections from 15 Years of Midwest Life & Arts.)

Two Wooden Bowls and other poems are © Mila Kette

Mila Kette’s poems appeared in several issues of The Heartlands Today, published by Bottom Dog Press Books and The Firelands Writing Center of BGSU Firelands College (both in Huron).

During the 2017 contest held by the Huron Public Library and Drinian Press,  my poem was chosen from among sixty five entrants. All the poems from that contest were collected in the book 44839: Poetry from a Zip Code 2017. In 2018, I got second prize. Again, the poems from this contest appeared in the book 44839: Poetry from a Zip Code 2018. I live in Huron, Ohio. I was raised in South America and moved to the US many years ago. I speak Portuguese, Spanish, Italian, French and some English. Perhaps this contact with different languages is the reason for my passion for words.

Mila Kette