Saturday, August 21, 2010

Introduction: Tani Arness

Picnic 2010 Featured Reader Tani Arness is very grateful to have had the chances to travel in over 30 countries and live for two years in a Northern Alaskan village before finally nestling into beautiful Albuquerque, NM. Since completing her Master’s in Creative Writing at the University of New Mexico, Tani has been teaching, writing, publishing, hiking, painting and walking her dog along the Rio Grande. Some days she wants to shout from the mountain top, “Poetry makes life better!”

Collecting by Tami Arness

It begins with the first thing you see,
the city, where every beautiful thing has
been killed once, and I gather candles around me
and cast light onto the memory of my mother.

In times of long nights and cold I string red lights between
fingers of wrought iron,
and snow clouds of brown-eyed dreams
wait behind every tree branch, bared
and reaching for the thing that happens after the story –

I don’t have any stories—like glass, fired,
and blown into heart-shaped beads—
not even the story of my life, which reminds me, I

never told you about my
mother – no need
she is soft and pink and rubs the palm of her hand,
traces fingers, across my back

What else to say?  I want her back—
The words are worse than the white space—
like I painted green slashes across all the white space once—
short slashes that looked like leaves—fluttering, but not falling,
and all those shades of green, hanging on thin stems,
they haunted me—

Not very many people have wanted to know about my life,
I don’t have the right stories—
but everyone has wanted me to point out something glorious.
And so I have collected feathers and stones and little tickets
full of words like phantom and swan

I have stood decorating dull green city trees with gold
that shimmers messages to sky, to day, to god.
God, another small word
fitting into all the empty spaces—
I have stood trying to explain the moments, the missing narrative,
chanting Hebrew blessings:
תודה על כל הדברים הרעים הטובים שהביאו אותי לרגע הזה

What else did you expect me to say?
Thanks for all the bad good things that brought me momentarily this

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