You learned that
you, a girl, belong
in a beautiful world,
here to discern.

Then tether your line,
low to the ground at first,
and as you practice,
higher and higher.

Know your wire,
its droop, its bounce,
how to resist
its desire to flip.

Higher and higher,
walk your line
scarcely aware
that the dew-

jeweled lawn
you totter over
is only
a figment —

of beauty
also fall,
not onto grass

or into a net —
so stretch your arms,
and step, balance,
adjust. Step,

balance, adjust.
Little by little,
the line must
belong to you. *


               for Madi

The Chagall of you,
magenta hexagonal
star of you, lantern
for our journeys,

the ochre Ganesh
of you, soft trunks
curling above
melon bellies,

the cascading moon
of you, amber violin
of you, Brahms lullaby
your mama hummed,

the kanga shawl of you,
crimson and pickle
green crisp kanga
you gave me I gave you

to wrap our babies in,
“Kanga nenda na urembo,
shani urembo na shani”
“Kanga, go with beauty

and wonder, wonder
and beauty,” shani,
red thread that ties
friend to friend,

the carmines and violets
of your paintings, iris
in high sun, the palette
of years made vivid by you,

your colors I choose
from the whole world
of hues, my heart’s beat,
the youyou of you.

With a light touch, Lora Berg explores beauty in her poems.  Lora has published a collaborative book with visual artist Canute Calliste (1914-2005), and poems in Shenandoah, Colorado Review and The Carolina Quarterly, etc.  She served as a Poet-in-Residence at the Saint Albans School, and holds an MFA from Johns Hopkins.  Among hats, Lora once served as Cultural Attaché at the U.S. Embassy in Paris.  She has lived in many countries.