Wednesday, August 31, 2005

The Flux of Days

by Zinta Aistars

"Zelta Krasts," oil painting by Viestarts Aistars

We swelter in sirocco breezes,
simmering in a feverish summer sun.
Golden fields of doing nothing. Nothing.
But breathing. Deep. Slow.
Infused with salted air and watching
the spit and spume of surf throwing
her lacy white skirts to the sky: dance with me.
Languorous, so that our bodies rise and rock
into each other’s bones, rib cages meshing,
skin melding, tucked inside and around,
limbs intertwined and synchronized.
Tango the summer across the dance floor,
salsa a storm into the sky,
sultry and unrelenting,
until it surrenders,
until the sky grows leaden with anticipation
of the fall.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005


To my grandmother, Lidija Aistars, known to us as

August 9, 2005

I wake thinking of her—my grandmother.
Today marks the day of her birth, a girl baby
born in a Baltic town smelling of sea salt,
sand scattered with the yellow glint of amber.
A quiet girl who grew into a quiet woman,
her strength needing no trumpet blasts or parades.
Patience was her strength, gentle hands,
her ever-hungering appetite for learning.
Always a book nearby. Always another one waiting.

For my grandfather, she was a woman Samson,
as strong as her hair, never knowing the sharp
edge of a blade. He tangled in it, never loosed.
Four sons. Many more children in classrooms.
She taught language like it was spun of gold,
treasure without limit, meaning of life.

His books, and shelves of books, volumes
they would read together, heads close,
or shoulder to shoulder propped on the pillows
in bed, their bedtime stories told one to the other.
His manuscripts written in longhand, a script
only she could read, his one pair
of trusted eyes, and dutifully typed,
her every keystroke an act of devotion.

Even now, these long years of their absence,
others speak to me—in awe and with perhaps
some envy—how they had watched, marveled
at the two of them entering a room
as one, holding hands, leaving the room
as one, still holding hands. She knew love.
The giving and the taking of it—a graceful dance.

My grandmother kept a bay window filled
with African violets, an indoor garden.
She kept a ceramic bowl of sunflower seeds.
A barrel of rainwater in the yard,
water dripping from the eaves,
for washing her long hair, ends at knees,
slowly unweaving the braided rope
until it was a silken curtain around her.
My grandfather watched her.

She sat in the sun, an open book
for a moment forgotten on her knees,
her face raised up to the sun.

Friday, August 05, 2005


by Zinta Aistars

"Ezers deg," oil painting, Viestarts Aistars

The possibilities dazzle:
where there was darkness,
there is sudden
if transient light.

Perhaps not so sudden.
A slow seepage, a backward bleeding,
wounds that some days
seem healed, and others
a raw gash of despair.

Yet hope stands a stubborn
if lunatic guard.
Every morning redeemed
and newly armed.

At first light,
your sleeping face
in childish innocence
next to mine.