Touch Me Not

A root of balm, a root of bane[1] the news pronounces

these days. I call it all painful. Wind flays the trees

beside the river we cross to get to school, library,

the rest of the world and an old oak has had too much,

reared itself, shown its mess, its new logic: naked root,

black earth, its death. The levels of betrayal are infinite

in Donal’s new article about the IRA, the Army, peace

makers. I am lost tracking them and can’t anymore.

Back home, the instrument of chimney blows a wild tune

I don’t want to know, Christ, I say, don’t we cover up

those old things? The chill waft from between bricks

is inexplicable. A body absorbs all kinds of things,

cold, the pavement, the father shot when he was five,

the gorgeous image of torn root, the wet of a window

weeping with condensation, the vivid hedge beyond.

Today’s storm is named Henry. Before that, Gertrude,

Frank and Eva. Desmond, Clodagh, Barney, and finally

Abigail, but there is no story for this stew, this day.

There is no illuminating anecdote to pass us through

its gust and confusion. Noli me tangere, is what

Jesus said to Mary Magdalene when she recognized him

after his death. The original Greek translates better,

maybe, Cease holding on to me. Men in reflective vests

and city coveralls touch the broken bits strewn on grass,

the gnarled oak’s below. It will be gone tomorrow.


[1] From Christina Rosetti poem “At Last”


Connie Voisine is the author of three books of poems, the most recent is Calle Florista. She has had poems published in The New Yorker, Ploughshares, Poetry Magazine, and elsewhere. She currently lives in either New Mexico, Chicago, or Belfast, Northern Ireland.