Barbara Ras

April 10, 2015 Ras Barbara



God we need rain. And white flowers.
Petals mimicking teeth and eggshells.
And don’t forget the christening gown.
Though lapsed I still respond to Holy Water,
all the fingers before me, all the fingers to come,
adding to a familial juice, whose trace on my forehead
foretells a boatload of trombones.
Doesn’t it startle you to walk into the kitchen
and find a cockroach belly-up, wonder how long
it took to roll onto its back or was it
one heroic flip, legs and antennae reaching skyward,
defying gravity, that evasive everywhere force
still shaking off our big-brain attempts to explain it,
while walking on our blue ball rotating at a 1000 mph,
but just walking on the ground
feels miraculous.
Once in a Moroccan market
I watched a man and his donkey deliver bread to a stall,
and after one round flat loaf fell
on the dusty cobblestones, he picked it up,
brushed it off, and kissed it.
I’d have eaten that bread, hugged the donkey,
danced with the kissing man, one hand in the air,
waving the way an olive branch waves in a slow wind,
the amber notes of oud music
vibrating in my heart.

Barbara Ras is the author of four books of poetry, most recently The Blues of Heaven, praised by Naomi Shihab Nye for its “vivid painterly wonderment.” Previous collections are Bite Every Sorrow, which won the Walt Whitman Award and the Kate Tufts Discovery Award, One Hidden Stuff, and The Last Skin, which received the Texas Institute of Letters for Best Poetry Book of the year. Her work has appeared in the New Yorker, Granta, Tin House, Massachusetts Review, and other magazines, as well as in the online newsletters the “Sunday Paper” and “Brain Pickings.”  She has received awards from the Guggenheim and Rockefeller foundations, among others. Ras is the Founding Director Emerita of Trinity University Press. She lives in San Antonio.