Illegitimate | Part I and II

Part I

You don’t belong
here, ever,
and leaving
fingerprints

on the doorjamb. How
did you get
in? Who lifted the
latch? Look,

nobody wants you
here. You
weren’t invited.
Better hide

that part of you
they hate, call
Polack, laugh at. No,
you can’t conceal

eyes, hair, skin. That’s
ok. They’ll say you
got them from
your other

grandpa. Let them.
Hide the part of
you that
reaches back,

digs for roots, water,
food, slice of
you that needs
sometimes dreams.

Better yet, kill
it. Bury it.
Forget it. Let it
disappear. What’s

fifty percent of
nothing? He gave
your name
away, to his

legitimate son. Change
yours. Then maybe
what’s left can
live. Not a whole

life, but a half
life, a quarter
life, a little wisp of
something like a

life. Better than no
life. Maybe. Better
for everyone?
Maybe. After

all, you wouldn’t
want to get caught
trespassing. Better
to pay the price

now: Just a half
life, please. Just
your birth name,
please. Just his

DNA, please. Just
a little death,
please. Leave your
blood on the

altar and no
footprints
as you
go.

Part II

you belong here
and leaving fingerprints
like miniature mazes
on the hallways of My
heart, every twist and
bend leading to

you, My home
and I, yours
here, darling, here
a place to rest your head
eyes, hair, skin, no need
to hide from Me

child, hide in Me
dump your sack of
broken bits, every sliver, slice,
on the dirt floor, let them
settle, sink, rot,
root and become

shoots, vines, leaves,
summer berries
undreamed dreams
words on pages of untold
stories, and a stone,
smooth, singing

against your palm
the song of your name
yours and no one else’s
resounding through your flesh
ringing through your veins
calling green up up up

yes, you belong here
fleet-footed, kicking up
dirt and grass, like
honeybees scattering new
beginnings beneath the
Living Tree, beneath

the Giving Tree
beloved, leave footprints
anywhere, everywhere
you go, you’re
home

© Nichole Q. Perreault

“I am noisy, full of the racket of my imperfections and passions, and the wide open wounds left by my sins. Full of my own emptiness. Yet, ruined as my house is, You live there!”

Thomas Merton

under water

it’s still
     dark in here
     and sometimes the darkness
still wins

i think
     maybe this time
     the darkness won’t
get me

won’t scare
     me, won’t wear me
     down, but this darkness is slick like oil
and spreads

on me
     before i
     know it, stinging my eyes
my throat

i jump
     into the deep
     end, to stop the burning, to
escape

it’s dark
     here too, and
     heavy, all this water
crushing

but i
     remember i’ve
     learned something new, i’ve
learned how

to breathe
     without air, without
     love, without hope, I’ve
learned how

to breathe
     under
     water

© Nichole Q. Perreault

Reception

I will set a table
For my soul
Among the trees

Quiet, I will wait
Beneath a canopy of leaves

Let stillness be the table
Let silence be the cloth
Let sunlight be the service, gleaming
My seat a bed of moss

I will set a table
For my soul
Out in the wild

Calling her to come
And play, as if she were a child

Let soft winds be the music
Let flowers be the dance
Let butterflies be our hearts, weaving
Patterns out of chance

I will set a table
For my soul
In forest glade

Inviting her to rest
And feast, on Bread no hands have made

Let wonder be the blessing
Let laughter be the prayer
Let forgiveness be our cup, healing
And let Love be the fare

I will set a table
For my soul
Where woods are deep

And wide enough for two
Or more, so you can sit by me

© Nichole Q. Perreault, April 2021

If It Was a Dream (A Cento Poem)

Begin at the beginning
She said
Little girl
In a cab with her father

Knit me together
In my mother’s womb
Lay your hand upon me
Hold me fast

Does the rain have a father?
A trust only found in the innocent
But she bent as the reed bends
Lies can be persuasive

Shattered worlds
Lost embryos
A whorl of red on the table
I had to kill something
Crows, blackbirds
Lying in wait for the pickings
If it was a dream it would be okay

What time is it?
I think I must have changed since then
To remember and to forget
Oak tree, riven by lightning
Dead on one side, living on the other
We’re all mad here
All the best people are

Does the rain have a father?
Knit me together
In my mother’s womb

One ship ploughing the grey bleak waters
Big waves rising around it
A cold lonely sea
Loneliness
I almost wish I hadn’t gone
Down the rabbit-hole

What time is it?
Does the rain have a father?
Knit me together
In my mother’s womb

Remember
You are wanted
Under his wings you will
Find refuge
Even the sparrow found a home
In a cab
With her father

Remember you are wanted
What time is it?
Does the rain have a father?
Knit me together
In my mother’s womb
Begin at the beginning

© Nichole Q. Perreault

The above poem is a Cento (or “found poem”) from the Latin word for “patchwork” and is composed entirely of lines from works by other authors. The words and lines I used to create this poem are borrowed from:
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll
A Little Princess, by Frances Hodgson Burnett:
The Little Red Chairs, by Edna O’Brien
The Book of Job, Psalm 91 & Psalm 139

Sacrifice of Thanksgiving

thank you
words that burn
an offering
bound in rope
pulled tight
laid upon the fire
like a lamb
or Isaac
costs me something
as if my flesh
were on the flame

a lonely leaf
scrapes down an empty street
where all the doors are
locked for winter
behind them
faces that I long to see
hands I cannot touch
clouds that shroud the stars
make a lousy blanket
I pull my scarf over my ears
and hurry home

home
glows like a box lantern
on the little hill
the door
this door
opens for me
air warm as
wind over hot sand
rushes out onto the stoop
throws its arms around my shoulders
pulls me inside

unwrap the scarf
take off the boots
set my bitter feet before the hearth
between chattering teeth
I breathe
words that burn
and turn my hardened heart
to weeping like wax
beneath a flame
I offer
thanks

© Nichole Q Perreault

Photo by Timon Wanner on Unsplash

Nothing But A Moon

Inspired by “Half Moon Makes Full Halo” by Jakusho Kwong

The moon is nothing
but a moon
Cold and colorless
Her gravity barely holding the feet of men
to her dry and dusty shores
Barren
She wheels round and round the earth
On a path she didn’t choose
While gazing down upon that celestial spring
That spinning womb that
Gives birth to trees and snakes
and little league

The moon is nothing
but a moon
Reflecting only another’s fire
She doesn’t burn or even turn
Her head
Part of her always hidden
Always facing away
Her far side1 never seen
by earth-eyes
Half-shadowed
She still kindles trees and snakes
and valentines

The moon is nothing
but a moon
And yet
Her being
Just her being
Is weight enough to stir the waters
Call forth hidden springs
Just her pushing, pulling
Presence
Steadies the spinning womb
Midwifes trees and snakes
and birthday cakes

The moon is nothing
but a moon
And yet
Even on her far side
The sun still shines
Limning mountains, filling craters
Silvering sands that
None will ever see
In her hiding place
The moon is gleaming
Bearing beams of love2 for trees and snakes
and cups of tea

© Nichole Q. Perreault, September 2020

1The moon has a “far side’ not a ‘dark side’.

2 The Little Black Boy by William Blake

Header Photo by David Dibert on Unsplash

The Dream

You are the dream He dreamed
He dreams
the song He sings
when the whole world sleeps

You are the whisper in the wind
wonder hushed
on angels’ lips
a secret He keeps

You are the gift He gave
He gives
the life He lives
in the depths of the deep

You
are the dream
the act, the scene

You
are the masterpiece
penned without ink

You
are the ballad
sung by the trees

You
are the mystery

You
are the dream

©️Nichole Q Perreault

https://unsplash.com/photos/2q6C5zDJOsg

Ocean at Night

I listen to the sea
As it beats against the earth
My mind a soft resounding
No words
No words
No words

No words to make you hear
Unless you’ve heard before
Wide-mouthed waves devouring
The shore
The shore
The shore

The shore as mute as I
While the roaring ocean pens
Her prayer of ceaseless pounding
Amen
Amen
Amen

© Nichole Q. Perreault

‘Ocean at Night’ was written in response to a prompt in my poetry group, in which were to focus on onomatopoeia, which led me to thoughts like “How do you describe the sound of ocean waves crashing on the shore to people who’ve never heard it before? Is there any description that does it justice?” My answer was this poem. 

Sunset on Treasure Island, FL. Photo by Nichole Q Perreault