Surely too much for one day,
starting with Voltaire’s Candide
tossed about by a capricious God;
still he swore it the best of worlds.
“It’s all right to question,” I told
my class. “Ask why!” It mustn’t
come sewed up in neat packages.

Still, I could do with a tidy
parcel, for when the message
came, it was for me. Once I
loved that aging aunt who tried
to seduce death, then blamed me
when I pulled her from his arms.
Decidedly she’s happy now.

Was it a capricious God who
assured I wouldn’t be alone?
Did we argue bitterly before
so we could share a healing
meal the day she died? Did he
know we moved mountains
as we sat and spoke of grief?

That night friends offered a sauna:
smoking rocks, an old wood stove,
cool top bench in a wooden hut,
copper dipper to lavish steam.
Heat was healing, but best
the icy water afterward, curling
every inner vessel in surprise.

He called me in, but I stood white
outside, trying to capture the night,
cold, deep blue, and full of stars.
A screen of bamboo rustled,
feathery evergreens sighed.
When I came back in, my man
was pensive and cast down,
but I had the sky in my hand.

Janet Powers published a poem in a national magazine at the age of 14 and has been writing poetry off and on ever since. Her poems have appeared in Bibliophilus, Antietam Review, Little Red Tree Poetry Anthology, among others. Her chapbook, Difficult to Subdue as the Wind, appeared in 2009