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Rosaire Karij



The Word

Poet’s Statement:

This collection in many ways chronicles the journey of a lifetime – the search for meaning and the discovery of the sacred in the raw stuff of everyday life. I am no longer able to separate the two. Heaven and earth are parts of a single cosmos and time has become an artificial construct. My Catholic childhood was suffused with mystical symbolism that continues to enrich my life, even when I don’t fully understand it. My ancestors, all of humanity, and all living things are not only connected, but interwoven into a single tapestry that has always existed and always will. And as usual, the prose is inadequate to the task of expressing any of this. Hence, the poems.

From the book:


Life teaches us

whether we learn it or not.

And so I went in search

of God. Thought I would find him in Nova Scotia

living among the Trappistines

who rose at dawn to sing

Laudate and listened at night

to their own blood beating.

It all goes back

to blood and the word.

What we can remember

of dark caves and falling

what we have forgotten

until the body reveals

itself as pure longing

for whatever is not this

cold morning rising

in a too small apartment

curtains of soot covering the windows

drinking coffee with my father

who at 6 a.m. has already stoked the furnace,

laid down a bed of coal

the way he laid down his life

so that some tenant on the top floor

could have heat.

The word “coal”

this above all has meaning,

how time compresses it

from plant to fuel to diamond

the way it works itself into the flesh

until there is no space left

for wonder, singing, or even grief.

Worked its way into my father’s flesh

the fine particles coating

the hairs of his nostrils

journeying their way into deeper passages

year after year, shovel by shovel

until they had filled

even microscopic openings.

The doctors said it was cancer

but anyone could see it was not that

could see his body

had taken on incomprehensible dimensions

as if life had burned him down

to what was essential,

flesh become word

all the filled spaces shining

rising up like the God I had looked for

like steam in the pipes

on a winter morning

leaving his children

to the unfinished work of this world.

Rosaire Karij grew up in New York City in a large extended family of Czech and Irish ancestry. She attended nursing school in Syracuse and has lived in Alaska, Montreal, and the Caribbean island of St. Maarten. She was in charge of health care services at Planned Parenthood for 25 years, a position that allowed her to “pray with her feet”, to put into practice deeply held beliefs about social justice, the inherent worth of every individual, and the preciousness of our children.

She began writing poetry seriously in her forties, as part of a midlife journey that continues to this day, and has included exploration of alternative healing practices, African dance, Tai Chi, Buddhism, and archetypal astrology. She lives in Ithaca sheltered by the trees of an adjacent nature trail, enjoying the solitude of retirement interspersed with occasional visits from her two sons, extended family, friends, and her beloved granddaughter.

Blood and The Word

is a 32-page hand-stitched chapbook - $10.

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Blood and The Word


Blood and The Word