Kaaren Kitchell – Burial rite

Kitchell LE P&W 6 Nov-Dec 2023

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14th Anniversary Edition, Live Encounters Poetry & Writing Volume Six Nov-Dec 2023.

Burial rite, poems by Kaaren Kitchell.

Burial rite

The night my father died
I put an amber stone on his belly button,
a stone he’d found on an Oregon beach
before they zipped the bag.

They wheeled him out of the den
where he could see his camel-shaped
mountain, the fountain outside the window,
the saguaro and the prickly pear, the palo verde tree.

They wheeled him through the room of living
where all was elegance and light,
my mother in cashmere, blonde swan,
too stunned for tears.

They wheeled him onto the gravel
where the long black car awaited.
But oh! couldn’t we ride with him
to wherever they were going?

The moon was bright and close
through eerie clouds. It was all wrong
to leave him with strangers,
but jumping into the hearse

would have horrified my mother.
I couldn’t disturb her trance.
Quietly we sat, sipping champagne,
remembering his life.

Only later in the room apart
did my sister and I dance a dance
of jubilation. We gave him the death
he wanted. At home with my mother.

Sprung him from the warehouse
for failing memory.
I saw them pacing the patio then, arm in arm,
slow, stately as any king and queen.

To one who mocks my voices

For Sam Hamill

What would you say to Homer
when he sang of Athena’s aid to Odysseus?

What would you call the angels
who attended the birth of Blake?

Or who hovered close to Rilke
right up to his last days?

The Invisibles who spoke to me
when I threaded the labyrinth,

I tell you, they were as real
as the silence you revere.

Only after thirty years
of listening to their voices

did I recognize their ancient forms and names.
Aphrodite, Dionysus, the Greeks called them.

Buddha was born on the Full Moon of May.
Was it early in May that year? Was he, like you,

a Taurus, born into Aphrodite’s beauty and splendor,
who longed for Dionysian silence and depth?

Like Basho wandering the mountains alone
with wine, song and the moon.

Or was he born, as I, a late Full Moon in May
under Hermes’ sign?

How familiar, the dialogue Yeats
carried on between self and soul!

Soul, where the goddesses and gods now dwell,
the voices heard in silence,

the innermost nature of every action,
place, person, animal, planet, every thing.

I stand in awe at my window

Across the Paris courtyard
the blue shadow of a Minotaur
framed in a square of gold light,
dipping and rising
as if he’s laboring over something,
working on his abs
or in the act of love,
with two sharp horns on his head!

What is this apparition I’m seeing?
I watch him dip and rise,
dip and rise,
and then he turns to face
out the foggy bathroom window
and I see two dreadlocks
sticking up from his big shaggy head.

© Kaaren Kitchell

Kaaren Kitchell’s poems have appeared in numerous literary journals (most recently in the Jung Journal Winter-Spring 2023), anthologies, and in a fine art manuscript at the Getty Museum. She received an MFA in Creative Writing from Antioch University, LA. She and her late husband, Richard Beban, taught Living Mythically at the C.G. Jung Institute in L.A., at Esalen in Big Sur, and in private workshops, based on her 30-year vision quest. A collection of her essays and his photos can be found at www.parisplay.com. Her most recent book of poems is Ariadne’s Threads.

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