We Are the Eighth Day, © Melanie Weidner


Mighty heart, weak drama

In the wake of 9/11, Daniel Pearl, Southeast Asia bureau chief for the Wall Street Journal, was in Pakistan chasing down leads to a mysterious figure named Sheikh Mubarak Ali Gilani, who he believed had connections to Osama bin Laden and to the recently captured “shoe bomber,” Richard Reid.

Trespassing the labyrinth

They will not see me, living out of sight down the hill,
the white-robed army of monks at prayer,
the makers of incense and beds and meals
with the smell of God about them.

They might feel me step into their pilgrimage, balancing
between the jagged and the smooth stones,
paying homage to the rock borders that turn
me closer in, farther out, maddeningly
away from the center.

This is no way to live a life.
How many times have they made these very turns
in their cloister, no labyrinth to guide them
but only the vague inner nudge?

It is the place where tortuous and torturous merge.
I take half an hour; they use half their lives.
And for what? A pile of rocks in the center,
a single life well lived?

The question, maybe, gives us pause.
It does not stop that inexorable pull,
like undertow sent to immolate a swimmer
beneath the waves,

or the ineffable peace that spreads with every step.


Raunchy family values

A friend of mine has an idea for teaching youth about sex: have them view one of those graphic birthing videos that the hospital has for first-time parents, the kind that shows the crowning and the afterbirth, the agony and the joy. The kids will get the idea.

Abandoned boat at sunrise

Up north, my wife, Felice, slipped
away with emphysema, and my work
cruised on without me—accounts balanced,
mortgages afloat.
                                    My sleep done
down here in Florida, I stand
looking out a darkened window
no one’s looking in.
                                          The morning paper
never comes too soon with its rites
of scandal and opinion. I finger
my few stocks’ shifting fractions, consult
the weather map’s puzzle,

while the percolator gurgles and sighs.
I wait for the light,
                                 wait for that moment
when Felice appears, pouring my cream,
easing my bitterness by asking, “Where
will you go today, and who will you carry?”



That bones will brittle
Is my truth,
And that all little
Cells, forsooth,

Will fail and fall,
And falling, leave
My brain’s recall.
So I receive

Lightness of being,
And a beginning
Of agreeing
With this thinning.

So long, lucidity.
Welcome, life’s
Gentle finality—
Its gradual knife.

Forgive the cells
That float and fly.
They’ve done so well,
And so have I.