Tressa Brittin Berman


Lost and Found

Balboa Park reminds me
of my grandmother’s lawn in Queens
It reminds me of the cattails
by the swamp in New England
where my brother and I caught tadpoles we brought home to Mother, by hand re-arranged with rice paper flowers
cut with Noguchi precision
standing tall in a Japanese vase

Balboa Park reminds me of
our old black cat
as I watch a feral beast watch me
steps out from the bushes to sniff the day then disappears back into the woods like God The feral cat reminds me of the time
the black cat broke the Japanese vase
into a hundred shattered pieces
glued together by Mother, by hand
the broken side turned forever to the wall

Balboa Park reminds me of things I used to love:
a ruffled black sweater, a boy too young to marry me, a sparkling silver pin.
The Maori women gave me a pin of a pugi dog
when my lover died, and they held my hand
and said te kio ora, na, na, na…
A pugi dog looks back at its tail because,
the Maori women said,
sometimes you have to look backwards to go on

I used to love a place
where the Southern Cross stretches
across the South Pacific sky
Places with names like Milingibbi, Yolungu, Woolongong below the belt of Capricorn
that vast hole of night
absorbs the daylight of New York City

Balboa Park reminds me of the dogs
in Central Park, where well-heeled dog walkers
read me the creed:

Balboa Lake lies like a curl in the arm of the San Fernando valley
shimmers with shards of memory lullaby waves that call, recall, recede

Tressa Brittin Berman

© 2013