Ricardo and Isabel Nirenberg since 1998
Poems by Rose Mary Boehm
All that remains
A murmur of atoms
taking off in graceful denial
of their former bonds.
8.9 on the Richter Scale
The most expensive earthquake ever,
damage expected to be in the tens of billions
of any currency.
A tiny notice somewhere said
that Brian Hickebottom's missing,
and added as an afterthought:
also his Japanese wife and his daughter.
A knock-on effect was expected
on my side of the world.
Speculation on the horror
filled another tedious
pre-election TV weekend in
a third-world country
15,000 km to the south east of Japan.
They shuffled papers, looked at laptops,
repeated video footage.
Hysterical voices generated
The prediction? One or two meters high
in the north of Peru, less than one meter in the south -
a tsunami that never really made it.
An orange not-quite-half moon hung
lopsided somewhere to the right
of the night.
I idly watched the black unfolding
of an unseen god; a pungent smell
ascended from the bottom of the sea.
What had been hidden before genesis
seemed to rise by stealth, a giant moving
through his realm, gentle as a caress,
waiting to be pushed out of his womb-like prison
where he had waited in torpid undulations.
And then the sea sucked in
a deafening breath
reneging on her promise of release.
Down by the pier some drunken voices challenged her.
Ghosts in the deep
We are fish in an expectant air, bottom dwellers
bound by laws of our own making. We rejected lightness,
expected weight. Bound to the bottom of a sandy ocean,
green sea floors, anemones, thick-stemmed algae,
we watch fish darting through dazzling skies, mermaids
laughing at our lack of knowledge. We can only imagine
what we think has already been created. Celebrate
the fire-red sea whip, look for redemption in the depth
of a water lily, learn to walk from the water strider.
Look up to observe the stingray darken the moon.
Custodians of old men's sins,
young women's sweat, keepers
of dreams, hoarders of calamities.
Chimeras can never be washed.
My warmth is resurrection.
The ones who were here before
nod to each other in passing
and easy companionship.
My hand passes through the knife
which plunges downward
to where I lie. Disembodied knuckles rap
on the wardrobe doors.
It's way past lunch time.
The maids open my door
with a pass key.
A German-born UK national, Rose Mary Boehm lives and works in Lima, Peru. Author of 'Tangents', a poetry collection published in the UK in 2010/2011, her work has been widely published in US poetry journals (online and print). She was three times winner of the Goodreads monthly competition, the poetry collection ('From the Ruhr to Somewhere Near Dresden 1939-1949 : A Child's Journey') has been published by Aldrich Press in May 2016, and a new collection ('Peru Blues or Lady Gaga Won't Be Back') has been published in January 2018 by Kelsay Books.