Carol Westberg


Morning Ritual—Waking Up White

I slap the old lady in the mirror
         and say, Wake up, Fool! This life
is your one and only.
         You, with the streaked white hair,
today’s your chance
         to free your heart, to grow more open to truths
you don’t want to own. I know
         you mean to be tender. Not to demean
what your fading blue eyes have seen in other eyes
         so far. You who’ve traveled
so much farther in space than your mother,
         who’s making this a race
to places unknown? Oh, little white girl sobbing
         in the photograph, heart locket
agleam on your bare chest, did you grow proud
         of your face, ashamed of passing
others because of your race? Look around now.
         If you can wake up for a moment,
how about one more?



                                      “The thing in itself has no abnormality.”
                                                                                         —Guo Pu

A small spider spins in the north corner of our bedroom.
         In the momentum of our life with words,
you tell me why the eighth king cut the sky rope. We alight
         in storm       drought       aspirations
to be steadfast.       Pause in the hard knowledge
         of bone protruding on my X-ray.
I become more unknowing each day.       Crack one egg
         in the glass bowl, another       distracted      
in the sink.       Don’t hope for a better past.
         Accumulation of snapped wings        catcalls       
Cornell’s boxed owls. Becalmed on the postcoital sea,
         do you hear my flinch and quiver?        See the light
in my fingers spill out my eyes. In the isolation
         of his cork-lined room Proust was large enough
to contain kindness. I pause       open the door.       
         Outside as inside        we shift and glide.


Snow Moon, for the Disruptor in Chief’s Clothing

I feel the full moon’s pull, wake to radiance
      out my window, snow moon under cloud covers, gaps
spilling uneven light over new snow.
      I think of the downed trees and fungus-covered stumps
on yesterday’s Mink Brook walk, water rushing
      through the narrows where ice breaks free. Briefly eclipsed,
the snow moon shines over us all, sleeping
      or waking, eyes open or closed.
If as the Vedas say, “All intelligences awake with the morning,”
      when our crazed chief tweets at 3 a.m., ego swelled,
his dark vision descending, he too feels the snow moon’s pull,
      speaks and gestures to effects unknown.
Powerless over the moon, he can’t steal our freedom
      to extend him benevolence this radiant night. 


Carol Westberg

For decades, I trekked from zen into yoga, aikido, and tai chi, carrying something from each on my way. Then I found Insight Meditation. On good days, I now practice both poetry and meditation with deepening gratitude.

Carol Westberg’s Terra Infirma was a finalist for the Tampa Review Prize for Poetry. Her poems have appeared in Prairie Schooner, Hunger Mountain, Valparaiso Poetry Review, CALYX, and other journals and have been nominated for Pushcart and Best of the Net awards. Carol earned a BA from Duke, an MA in Teaching from Stanford, and an MFA in Poetry from Vermont College. A California native, she grew up on a farm in Iowa and now freelances as a writer and editor from her New Hampshire home.

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