Categories
Poetry

These Thousand Hills

By Melissa A. Chappell

(For the 800,000 people who perished in the Rwandan genocide of 1994)

I am a Eucalyptus tree.

For a hundred years I have stood here

with my roots pressed in this Rwandan earth.

They reach down

deep,

deep into the underworld,

where life is not,

and the dead

flee away.

.

My branches reach

high,

high into the heavens,

where there is

no wrong,

and death

flees away.

.

But I dwell on earth,

and what I have seen!

What I have seen!

The rain was blood

for my shamed roots,

and loathing myself,

I was made rich

by rotting flesh,

flesh that

no one claimed

because they, too,

had disappeared

into oblivion.

.

Come, Mercy, come!

Lay an axe to my trunk.

Butcher my wood

as they did the people

to whom I once

gave shade.

Set me ablaze.

Make me a holocaust

to the heavens.

Let me burn!

May my holy essence

float across

these thousand hills

.

so that none may

be forgotten,

so that none may

be forgotten.

.

Come, Mercy, come!

Let me burn.

.

Melissa A. Chappell is a native of South Carolina living on land passed down through her family for over 120 years. She is greatly inspired by the land and music. She plays several instruments, among them an 8 course Renaissance lute. She shares her life with her family and two miniature schnauzers. She recently published Dreams in Isolation: The World in Shadow: Poems of Reconciliation and Hope with Alien Buddha Press.

.

PLEASE NOTE: ARTICLES CAN ONLY BE REPRODUCED IN OTHER SITES WITH DUE ACKNOWLEDGEMENT TO BORDERLESS JOURNAL. 

Categories
Poetry

Elmhurst, O Elmhurst

By Melissa A. Chappell

(Elmhurst, the only public hospital in New York City was founded to serve the poor in 1832. It serves Western Queens County.)


Elmhurst, O Elmhurst,
I did not know you in your mothering shift
of glass and mortar.
 
I ticked off your name in my mind
as you caught my ear on the morning radio:
“Elmhurst.”
 
This, as I authored my own survival.
 
Perhaps I may be one of the remnant.
 
Perhaps this wasting bane
may steal away on some wing
of the breeze.
 
But, no, Corona prefers to steal the air
from the ravaged world;
 
so that one day I saw on my 52 in. screen,
Elmhurst,
with an almost snake like refrigerated truck,
parked outside its venerable walls,
the vile work of Corona
unmasked,
by the shining light of day;
 
so that, the wretched of God gathered at the hem
of her weeping garments.
 
The poor and the dead,
thronging around her.
 
She has mothered them for generations,
now they lie dead in the emergency room,
with none to kiss their brow.
 
She weeps over those who have waited so long
to shelter within her.
 
Yet she rejoices in those who leave her,
walking from her doors.
 
Elmhurst, O Elmhurst, I did not know you
in your mothering shift
of glass and mortar.
 
Yet now, now, I catch the genesis
of the most improbable invitation
on a wind that comes
out of the surly darkness:
“Breathe, breathe.
I will keep your going out
and your coming in.”
 
This, for the poor who gather around
the shabby fringes of the earth.
 
This, for you, O Elmhurst,
form this time on,
and forevermore.

Melissa A. Chappell is a native of South Carolina, USA. She contentedly resides on land that has been in her family for over 130 years. She has a BA in the Theory of Music and a Master of Divinity degree. Besides writing, she plays several instruments, including the lute. Music and the land are her primary inspirations for her poetry. She has had two chapbooks published: Rivers and Relics (Desert Willow Press)

Categories
Poetry

Pandemic and more…

By Melissa A Chappell

Pandemic

Do you remember,
as the alarm bells were crying,
how we were silent in the sun,
our blood roiling red with the ruins of the sun.
Do you remember,
as the warnings were rising,
how we once lowered the moon
till it lay pale on our backs.
Do you remember,
as the virus spread across the world,
how once we curled, small, like a fiddlehead fern,
forgetting everything,
forgetting everything.
 I Walked Out

I walked out on a Sabbath day
into these woods that I have called my own.
In praise the poplars bare branches raise
In this their silvered wintry home.

I looked out over the crest of the hill,
to see, where, as a child, I wandered wild,
down to the now songless rill,
where the mysterious gray dusk once beguiled.

Laying my claim, here I call down my preening pride,
for I know that to me nothing has ever belonged.
Just the same, you were never mine.
For all that is dwells where the Lord’s graces throng.

I walked out--not even my body bore my name.
Empty hands, empty heart, room for all.
My human passions ever tamed,
the empty plenum, brimming with God, brings lauds.

The Cedars

Walk a while with me,

along this borrowed road

where courageous grows

the Queen Anne’s lace.

Let us speak of the

furious star

hurtling through the

door ajar,

our catechisms

and ponderings,

umbrous

in the roaring

light of day.

Sit a while with me,

beneath yonder poplar tree.

I cast my seed into

the dark furrows

of your yearnings deep.

Perhaps they will

settle quiet

into their loamy rest

at the diffuse dusking

in the lavender west,

readying for the waking,

the cracking of the husk.

Lay a while with me,

on a bed of evergreen boughs.

As I brush the hair from

from your brow,

the gracious breeze will

caress every sense of ours.

Together in the fire struck night,

we die, one to the other,

rising, blessedly more human,

having loved beneath the cedars,

having loved beneath the cedars.

One-Tenth of a Percent

The long awaited DNA results

radiated sundry on my computer screen.

At the bottom of my long and

kaleidescopic lineage, there it was,

as if someone had almost forgotten to link it

to my motley double helix:

“Sudanese, one tenth of a percent.”

One infinitesimal gene, which, excitedly

laying claim to an exotic slice of Africa,

suddenly became a mountain of pride.

Lordly, I passed through my days,

knowing that in my blood ran the ebulliant,

ancient tribal songs and dances of Sudan.

Yet I thought not of a fractured nation,

perishing for an independence

cut out of its mountains and plains,

and the tortured alchemy of

bloodlust, power, and dulled machetes.

The blood of Sudan courses through humanity,

its lament rising from the ancient gene,

the lament of those everywhere who,

facing intolerable danger, flee away,

away to stranger shores, or to the wilderness,

where manna from heaven is only an old story,

where seeds and leaves are the sole food that

the only God they know can offer them.

My one-tenth of a percent was lost in the infinite ocean,

yet finally swam across a sea of plasma to reach

nucleic shores, finding refuge in the improbable

gene pool of a girl so white the sun is blinded by her.

She does not understand the faint, foreign chants

that she sometimes hears in the offing.

Yet one-tenth of a microscopic percent,

real as the blood that wails for justice,

dreams of flowering hills of daffodils,

where the blood soaks silent into the waiting earth.

Melissa A. Chappell is a native of South Carolina, USA. She contentedly resides on land that has been in her family for over 130 years. She has a BA in the Theory of Music and a Master of Divinity degree. Besides writing, she plays several instruments, including the lute. Music and the land are her primary inspirations for her poetry. She has had two chapbooks published: Rivers and Relics (Desert Willow Press)