leela raquel

(several years ago I was still deep in my career as an ironworker. I ran crews all over the country but none effected me as much as the men from New Mexico. One of my right hand men, Jeff, and his longtime girlfriend finally decided to get pregnant. The next nine months it was like everyone on the job was pregnant. I used to take him out to my truck at coffee and make him read “what to expect when you are expecting” because he was in danger of losing his mind from reacting to his girlfriend’s hormonal evolution during the pregnancy. One Saturday, I was on the treadmill at the gym when he called me on the phone. He wanted to know if I was busy and I told him I was not. He then said that if I wasn’t busy, if I had nothing better to do, would I like to come to the hospital and meet his girlfriend, the family and their new baby girl, Leela Raquel. I told him of course, and went to the hospital – the neonatal ICU unit. When I got home I wrote this. April is national poetry month, it is a time to reconnect to the power and purpose of poetry – it is not to elevate the status of the poet, but for the poet to elevate the status of life – be well, CT)




Leela Raquel


Leela Raquel,

whose young heart is so very frail,

let me speak to you of life

so that you may say

you knew it well.


And there will be no need

for you to feel,

that you must stay,

past the hours,

of your

one day.


For all of us

gathered in this room,

have loved you more

in minutes,

then most will know

in years.


Your long slim fingers

with their nails shaped just so.

Your toes,

that your mother


as they curled in and away.


And your voice –

that we all heard,

rising in protest

at the indignity

of having

dinner interrupted,

for yet another test.



All these things,

Leela Raquel,

are what we will keep of you.


But most of all,

we will remember,

how even so young,

your hands reached out

and tried

to pluck from the air,

the voice

of your father

as it hung there.


I know you recognized him,

for you have the same

eyes and nose

and hands and hair.


And you should know,

that it was the love of your mother,

that brought him back

from despair.


And he carried with him

his father –

so wounded in war,

and his grandmother –

surviving it all.


And they are all here.

Cradling you.


their fear.


I can tell you this

because I know it to be true.

Life is strange

and often we are given

more than our share,

but your father,

has become a greater man

because of you,

than most would even dare.


And your mother,

with her temper and flare,

will always be enough

to keep the love there.


But it was the promise of you

that raised them both

from where they had been

to a height,

I am sure,

They will never

know again.


And it will be

the memory of this moment,

that will keep them strong.


Life treats us all

with a kind

of shaded indifference.

What we think we may want and need

may not always

be what we receive.


But what we receive

is always enough

to get us through.


And no matter what happens,

Leela Raquel.


No matter what happens.


The world will keep turning.

The sun will rise and set.

And even the air,

even the air,

will keep on

being air.


So Leela Raquel,

whose young heart is so very frail,

you know

all there is to know now,


you have been,

loved well.


And there is no need

for you to feel,

that you must stay,

past the hours,

of your

one day.



c.2011 Cassandra Tribe. All Rights Reserved.


About cassandratribe

"There are few artists that can do what Cassandra Tribe does. Whether with her poetry, her videos or her blog, Cassandra examines the truths that most of us can never come close to realizing and shows it for what it is, both beautiful and frightening at the same time. She exposes our inner-most workings like the cross-section of a powerful but flawed machine, our gears and springs, nuts and bolts removed and laid out before us. She is a true artist. Her new video, Requiem for a God, is the latest example of Cassandra's willingness to tear open and examine the very things that make us human. Shooting the film entirely by herself, she also eliminates all the little excuses we come up with to keep us from ourselves and our truth. You see, even when she's not trying to be, Cassandra Tribe is a beacon of truth and humanity in this darkest of worlds." (Michael E. Quigg, The Culture Network, June 2009)
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