Say hosanna. Even if you don’t know
what it means. Even if you think
it means Praise the Lord,
say it anyway. Hosanna.
Say hosanna. Even if you think
it’s antiquated, a word relegated
to the sacred, that it’s lifeless
in a world of texts and tweets.
Say hosanna. Let it mean Save Me,
even if you don’t know who
the savior is. Even if you don’t
know who’s your enemy.
Say you think your enemy is
in your past, a parent who mocked
your penmanship, your sportsmanship,
who called you worthless, unredeemable.
Say hosanna. Even though no one’s
shooting at you, no missiles are falling
in your backyard, you aren’t in a dinghy
overcrowded with your neighbors,
running out of water, hope, the rest.
Say hosanna anyway. Surely there
is something you need saving from.
Call and Response
Frog, lying belly-up on the bottom of the pool
calls up dog, now gone and turned to ash,
who calls up cat, who disappeared one day,
my five-year old sobbing up and down the street:
Come home, where have you gone,
how could you leave like this?
So every poem calls up another, one you read
or might have read, the red wheelbarrow
that calls up the red Keds you wore that summer,
left on the front step, waiting for the feet
that didn’t know where they’d go next.
Or how about “I Love You Sweatheart,”
emblazoned on the overpass by the young man
who couldn’t keep his spray paint to himself,
the sweat of lovers called up by his third grade teacher,
who didn’t teach him how to spell.
Or the one about the mastectomy.
I never had one, but I’ve lived through one.
It calls up that small dish of dead bees
hidden by rose petals on the would-be lover’s
porch, the petals clustered in a vessel
too small to hold the missing breast,
which calls up the stretch of sewn-up skin,
fingers inching upward on the bedroom wall
of an arm whose nodes are gone,
a little higher each day,
like a bee climbs up a wall.
And then the bag of chopped off ears,
meant to shock a woman into silence,
but what’s a bag of chopped off ears in El Salvador
compared to one warm breast, a dish of bees
humming their summer song, not knowing
they will die, not knowing they’ll appear
on the front step of a poet’s bungalow.
Christine Beck holds a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing degree from Southern Connecticut State University and is the author of Blinding Light (Grayson Books 2013) I’m Dating Myself, (Dancing Girl Press 2015) and a chapbook, Stirred, Not Shaken (Five Oaks Press 2016). She is the current Poet Laureate of West Hartford, CT. More information about her many activities is on her website—www.ChristineBeck.net.