Uphill Climb


Uphill Climb

The snow holds no planks
unlike the floor we couldn’t walk clothed
when you first came,
and I move slowly through it, thinking
of sex and missiles,
poems and my head
by the TV table–sometimes we’d get all the way
to the kitchen and I’d grip the width of wall
of the doorless door, warmth spilling
over the fridge, its magnetic words

But wait–I trudge the snow-heavy
hill, good exercise
for a Lutheran–and remember how I had to shut
all the windows at a certain point
in that apartment, for weeks
after 9/11, there in downtown
NYC, trying to keep the seep of smoke out of
the old jambs, and the service at the church down the street
the first Sunday after, so crowded we had
to sit behind the altar, shaded
by the pomegranates, the ultramarines,
the too-stark whites
of that anglo-american
stained glass–so much brighter
than the wax pages of hymnal, ash of notes, blurred words
that we sang–
that we all  sang–though we trailed the melody
like the heft of the organ,
only it was not a mishmash of chords
that held us back
but the difficulty of singing

and I’m not really sure I’m still writing
about 9/11 but about some generalized
feeling of pain–the problem somehow being that I, you, we
have tasted
the apple and that it tasted so very sweet
we even bit
again, and somehow we, must all pay
for this–especially we, who are women–
with our breasts so capable of
pleasure and
of tears,
with our breasts that breath hard
uphills and tighten
touched, with our mouths
that taste and give

The sky turns dark
overhead except where there
are clouds that seem to carry light
along with fresh snow, and this burdened brilliance, I think,
is something to remember.



A draft/scribble/what you will for Real Toads, inspired by Grace’s (a/k/a Heaven’s) prompt on With Real Toads about the wonderful Cuban poet, Carilda Olivar Labra.


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29 Comments on “Uphill Climb”

  1. Mama Zen Says:

    This is brilliance that I’ll remember.

  2. stillight Says:

    This was beautiful!

  3. Grace Says:

    It would be difficult singing weeping but I love the brushstrokes of blurred 9/11, women with mouths that taste & give sweetness ~

    Thanks for participating K & wishing you happy weekend ~ Enjoy the snow, lots of it ~

  4. Polly Says:

    Superb k — I shall return to this one — over and over

  5. The difficulty of singing weeping.. That is strong.. Despite all the beauty and stain-glassed windows, the smoke reminding.. What a beautiful day you seem to have though. Snow and sun is a favorite combination for me..

  6. Kerry O'Connor Says:

    To have lived through even a single day of holocaust proportions must affect the consciousness forever. I admire your ability to sort through the memories and commit them to poetry without sentiment. Your final stanza is a perfect summation of experience.

  7. I still remember one of the lines from one of her poems: Me desordeno amor, me desordeno (I fall apart, my love, I fall apart). I lvoed your poem, too. Thanks.

    Greetings from London.

    • ManicDdaily Says:

      Thanks. She is so good. One– meaning me– feels a little reluctant to try to emulate such passion on a blogged poem though! Even if I could! But am definitely going to think about her wonderful work which was new to me. Thanks, Cubano. K.

  8. “loved”, sorry.

    Greetings from London.

  9. brian miller Says:

    that next to last stanza where you blend in 9/11, your own doubts..and correlating it to the fall in the garden and temptation…is solid k

  10. hedgewitch Says:

    You’ve taken the jumping off point of this poet’s work to your own place here, k. yet managed to keep a lot of the spontaneous and sensuous–and I mean all senses, good and bad–feel of it at play while drawing up a lot of personal-to-universal metaphor that works to drive both mood and message–which is just to say that this is very well-written, developed in stages, like chapters in a book, or the sprouting and opening of a flower, but never loses a sense of originality and immediacy. I love phrases like ‘he doorless door’ and “burdened brilliance,’ especially.

    • ManicDdaily Says:

      Thanks. It didn’t seem to me that it could ever hang together but decided just to go with it; and try to be direct. The Cuban poet’s work is beautiful–but maybe hard for someone who stayed practicing law (she left the field, I notice), to blog! (Ha!) k.

  11. Kenia Santos Says:

    “especially we, who are women…” Awwwn. This is so beautiful. Great poem, really strong writing. ❤

  12. Excellent poem. That last stanza really grabbed onto me.

  13. Oh! My! Goodness! What a spectacular write this is…….fantastic! culminating in “this burdened brilliance”. A wowzer of a poem!

  14. Amazing!! You rang in Carilda’s tone and flavor but yet in your own poetic voice…your opening lures one right in…excellent work, K!

  15. Brendan Says:

    Yeah, such a fine response to the prompt — a Cuban’s ache on the eve of the Cuban Missile Crisis in ’63 has a direct link to a New Yorker’s ache in the days and weeks after 9/11/01. Maybe its as old as Dido’s lament, you know, the archetype of the woman betrayed by her lover Mars, hallowing that time when the weeping was swept over by rage. It’s archetypal back to Eve, to that moment that when the gates lifted showing us the possibility of love, it also revealed the inevitability of death, and a certain lust for it as well. Yep, we’re still slogging forth from that season, still waking to the resonance of those towers’ fall. My father lived in NYC back in the ’70s, I stayed with him one summer in ’75 and we’d go to Trinity Church on Sundays, there in the shadows of the great Towers, singing of Resurrection with the graves of our founding fathers just outside.

  16. margaret Says:

    wow. You really captures her drama and also managed to leave room for hope with the last stanza.

  17. Poet Laundry Says:

    Thoroughly got caught up in your recollecting and where you took it. I “heard” Carilda’s style but with your voice and I enjoyed it immensely.

  18. What a wonderfully moving piece. You have taken the war and peace of the situation and given it a beautiful, poetic voice.

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