Christine Valters Paintner is an American poet living in Galway, Ireland and the author of twelve books of nonfiction and two collections of poems: Dreaming of Stones (2019) and The Wisdom of Wild Grace, forthcoming in fall 2020 from Paraclete Press. Her poems have appeared in several journals in North America, UK, and Ireland including Tales from the Forest, Crannog, Stinging Fly, The Blue Nib, Headstuff, The Galway Review, Boyne Berries, impspired, Bangor Journal, Tiferet, Spiritus, Presence, and Anchor. You can find more of her writing and poetry at AbbeyoftheArts.com.
That they would all be joined together in this moment, his ancestors and mine cheering us on as our lips met for the first time, how his kiss taught me what words could never, that grief does not last forever, that the loving gaze of another is enough to wake us up to the truth about ourselves, and even now after thousands more kisses, after learning that pleasure is so sweet, never to be resisted, how the elders know this and from behind the veil love me for saying yes.
I am the soft manicured hands of my mother bruised from tubes sustaining her life. I am the furrowed brow of my father, beneath his widow’s peak, the longing for drink. I am my grandmother’s Art Deco diamond ring worn to dozens of balls, now in a drawer. I am my grandfather’s arms rowing the oars of the canoe far from shore. I am the bones of my ancestors, sinew, tendon, muscle, blood, skulls painted with spring flowers.
So Much is Ending
Fruit lies in piles around trees, a slush of waning nectar, can you love that which has moved past ripeness? That which heaps itself in sticky-scented rot? Can you love the mottled skin, petals tumbling to ground, sharp wind shaking loose the clutch of leaves? Can you love what could have been, promises unfulfilled? Destiny unclaimed? Can the current of regret carry you to old shores? Will you look in the mirror at your scars and lines and see a ragged map? Will you linger a while, re-reading the final page?