To Laughter With Questions

(from “To Laughter With Questions: Poetry by Shelley Berman”)

“Just because you can’t eat it doesn’t mean it isn’t good” - Joshua

To hear Shelley recite this poem, click on the player below right. To return to the Poetry page, click on the “Poetry” link above.

 

For Pat McCormick (2005)

To hear Shelley recite this poem, click on the player below right. To return to the Poetry page, click on the “poetry” link above.

Part I: Not Yet For The Crafter Of The Joke

He saw me once as I uprooted

roses and he cried.  I put aside

the spade, of course, and made

the funny face that gave him

laughter. 


I stop to hear old silences – those

days of shorter words, our morning

swims; I say he’s getting taller and he grins. Books

and colored pencils on

the lawn; I towel his back and muss

his hair.


Wondering, I return

to now, to laughter with questions.

Will I forget?  Not yet.  I turn and find

his eyes—eyes to eyes—until

again I reach to touch

his wetted face and find my own.


He was a rose too much

in shade, too wise for promises,

my laughter’s urgent lies.  Leave me,

he said, and when I left he chose

to go as well.


The candle takes its fire

and I recite the Kaddish, the flame

bobbing at my breath. Year by year

the burning Yahrzeit sends

its scent and glow even
into laughter.