on a vase of tulips: the pinks whites yellows reaching upward outward way over the edge opened wide to their silken centers until inside out suffused with the vibrant morning light they surrender who they are with wordless grace leaving only small soft footprints across the kitchen table should I wish to follow
Another “golden oldie” from two decades ago, first appearing in North Shore Magazine in 2005.
Always, in returning to the house of my farm-grown summers I come home to the wild oat, the whole grain of me. Riding bareback again through the fields of a long-ago self, who I was rises golden and green in a warm wind: Bud hasn’t gone crazy yet. Audrey and Rose still live. The hayloft babies are hiding in the rafters of first love, waiting to be born. The lake’s so deep you can swim one step out from the bouldered shore. Blind Grandpa keeps his pockets full of change. Cackling, he leans on his cane, throwing every quarter-nickel-dime onto the ground. He listens as we fall upon them like scrabbling crows. Gran scolds but he never stops making us rich. Dad shows Bob and I at 5:00 a.m. how to hook a worm (I’ve been saving them from a dry street death ever since). Later Gran, with a shake and quiver of strong, baggy arms, scales and cleans eight small bass in the kitchen sink. Uncle Jim drives his tractor in a pressed white shirt. I slip out the door, running past rabbit-friendly trees to hide among sky-driven stalks. Lying down, I press my body into sweet conversation with the earth. Here, no machinations of the soul, just secrets told, flitting like fireflies through branches of maple, alder, birch. Who I became is the land that grew them—a defiant wave of long grass beside a paved road, a wealth of open sky, water deep enough for a man to drown in, the flickering light that might save him.
This poem first appeared in the Taos Journal of International Poetry and Art in July, 2017. Deep thanks to then-editors Veronica Golos and Catherine Strisik for selecting it.
My poem LIFE – A Snapshot is now live at Recenter Press Poetry Journal! This poem was written a very long time ago – many thanks to editor Terra Oliveira for including it in Issue 3, alongside other insightful poems. And thanks to fellow poet Robert Okaji for introducing me to this journal, whose purpose is as its name suggests – to recenter!
Look how the moon hangs
its luminous sign outside
the bedroom window: the man
with a grin is open for business!
But in your private dark, nothing
so grand – only the chest-warming
glow of a night-light never turned off:
being able to take one good deep
breath after another, and feel
your own durable heart pumping
steadily in unsteady times,
its rivers, rich with blessing,
coursing through a world
that knows the fierce
need of it.
Another older poem which first appeared in North Shore Magazine and then my chapbook “Stealing Eternity”.
Today a friend, old before her time,
passed by—younger, it seemed.
Losing her husband, she had lost
her footing in the world for years,
change—the stranger most feared:
hidden in dark rooms everywhere.
I was struck by her face: wax-white
and smooth, like a cupped candle,
her eyes, calm reflective pools
no longer hooded
or stoned with grief,
as if she had sunk through her own tears
to the cold bottom of that well
until it was emptied
of the one held most dear,
and stood now, looking up,
drinking from the buckets
of light that filled it.
Another older poem, included in my chapbook “Stealing Eternity”.
Children grown, two out of three gone,
we drag our feet putting outside lights up,
buying and decorating a tree.
We settle for the bushes, a whimsical snaking
of lit Smarties among leaves, get the smallest tree
nobody else wants. That stormy year
our street lost power as Christmas day turned
to evening, and we had a dozen hungry guests
roaming the house, bumping into things.
Because the gas stove had been cooking a turkey
for hours, it continued, and we cheered
the range burners could be lit with a match.
The two gas fireplaces burned more sedately—
fan flow interrupted—and of course there were
candles on the dining room table anyway.
My husband fired up a generator, plugged in
a lamp, stereo and the bulbous bush lights; orange
and yellow cords extended everywhere.
I imagined our neighbours gazing out
from dark windows at the bright cosmos
of our house, the raucous hum of
determination in the air. If Christmas
was all about seeing the light
in each other, it didn’t fail to surprise:
how happy it made me, having a reason
to move closer, peer and be peered at,
glimpse among flickering faces the child
I was before my heart got wrapped in
scar tissue, who once got a letter from Santa
saying he was on his way, and didn’t I
then on the eve of my seventh Christmas
see him tiptoe past my bedroom door!
I miss the girl who believing, saw.
Merry Christmas to you and yours!
Also, my chapbook “Irresistible” is still available for pre-orders until January 12, 2018. Since advance sales determine the pressrun, such purchases make a huge difference! In the mood? Many thanks – you can reserve a copy here:
I sit down beside my elderly father,
quietly clasp his hand, cross
and then uncross my legs.
Long flight to get here, long
battle with emphysema and
an overworked heart for him.
The hospital door that swings
both ways for me, obdurately
keeps a good soldier in.
Not close enough, this chair,
and impossible for us to hug,
dear dad tied down—
tubes coming and going.
All a man can do to break free
is look out the window,
so I do too, and with him
simply breathe in the blue
of a cloudless sky,
“scattered light,” science says,
that our eyes make into
an unrippled sea—but
there’s never been such a blue
falling through me, so endless
a promise of more—
slowly it fills the room,
steadies the listing boat
neaped on a perilous shore.
This poem is included in my chapbook “Irresistible”, forthcoming from Finishing Line Press in March, 2018, and available for pre-order here until January 12, 2018. Since advance sales determine the pressrun, my thanks to all who take a leap of faith and buy my book!