Gina Franco

In an hour before now I began the book of annunciations, for then I knew nothing would arrive but wilderness. The wind was kicking up where I stood looking at the tree in which the body had been. The limbs shook and had the look of things that had been touched, and had I not been afraid of myself that way, I would have knelt before their splendor. Though surely it is too late for invisible things to make an outcry, too late for one thing to arrive speaking as another, the wind kicking up, the wind (be still) blowing in one direction, plainly, when, as it seemed to me then, freedom had entered my life, adrift. No angel floated near the threshold or hissed from the veil of leaves. The lot down the street where the mother's house stood is empty, and the memory of the grave (pane of punched tin, smooth furrow in the earth) also, empty. I stood at the foot of the tree where the wind was kicking up and remembered you writing the last letter you would send: "I tried to call you, you know, but you weren't home, and before I left a message I thought how invasive of me! and I hung up." When does a call (where are you?) not end in expulsion, the mind (I am hiding) apportioned in all that body, the mind (I am naked) bending light to earth, the mind atremble (I am deceived) in its very last limbs?





The title of this poem is taken from Simone Weil's "Decreation." Elsewhere, in her final letter to Father Perrin, Weil writes, "I never read the story of the barren fig tree without trembling. I think that it is a portrait of me. In it also, nature was powerless, and yet it was not excused." The poem was written several years after my grandmother's death in the 1998 flood of Del Rio, Texas and Ciudad Acuna, Mexico. Her body washed out of her house, down her street, and was caught in a tree, which thankfully allowed her body to be found. The poem is about my last visit to the tree. [link]