Next Lifetime

My name!
she pointed proudly 
to the end of the row at the parking lot. 
I blinked.
Yes, that could be an A of sorts,
the lines painted to end the slanted spaces,
an upside down A with five crossbars.
And an A could be Amanda. 

My daughter let go of my hand and knelt
to trace the outline.
I returned her smile.
Your name. How nice to see it here! 

There was always something to see
on the way to her preschool across the campus:
striped shadows from a railing,
a dog that turned to smell us,
a tulip with a golden center.
She pulled me to her favorite every morning,
a bas-relief propped above the Hare Krishna table.
It showed a crawling baby, followed by a little boy,
a youth, a man in his prime, then a haggard elder with a cane,
a small light bulb in each chest.
The light glowed a moment in the baby,
traveled on through each—youth, man, ancient—
to disappear, then reappear in the baby.

So the old man is the baby next? she'd ask,
watching the light progress. 
Yes, I'd say, reincarnation too big a word.
But she understood in her own way.
At the store she touched the dress she wanted,
accepted my no to buying it.
That's all right, she said. 
You can buy it later, the next time 
I'm a little girl and you're my Mommy again.

—Sarah Webb


A calligraphy brush,
Dipped in water,
Travels over stone,
In gestures vanishing—
Into molecules, into air—
Every moment an act 
Of creation and erasure.

Starlings luff and billow 
Across the dusky blue, 
Inking arcs and spirals, 
Swellings and dips,
Every act a moment
Of erasure and creation, 
A choreography of meanings
We may only intuit 
From within. 

—Geneve Gil



—Melanie Alberts