Sunday, December 23, 2012

december

 
a collection of shudders
skeletal
in the early winter
the alder trees react
to the cold breeze                                  
rain drapes and drops
fat tears washing down
limbs and trunks     
spatters
to the color drop  
below the knees
saturated leaves
pressed into each other      
like steeped journal pages
this is the record
the progress of a year

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Yellow Jacket


Yellow Jacket

He sat on the dashboard, in
the sun tidying up, stroking
the long antennae
as if combing them into place.
Nothing menacing but
looking at the sturdy striped body with
the undisclosed stinger was enough to
remind me of the danger of small
quiet things;  those blended thoughts,
packed full of their unexpected power
until someone leans into them. 

after e e cummings ...works in progress....

Dec. 4th


once

i was calling out   comfort
yellows warm and dry   once
the comfort of  only i
you sowing   reaping stones and

i was   while passing out pillows
weary among the in-depth of
between your throwing

i was assured of  wreckage
weeping and sweeping glass houses
in front of strangers of broken
i was    gathering dinner swallowing rocks




Dec. 5th

of children

handsome however you grow
to love you is to know

    you of the once small
 hands  outgrowing   all

my ideals lost on maps of
napkin and drawn of

sticks in sand wave-washed
out-tide rushed

your new faces blushed and youthful sketches
of my  thoughts like  twining rosy vetches

i am clinging   salt-soaked seaside
love-draped   nodding tide

of mother




Sunday, December 2, 2012

Rewrite Turquoise


No Taj Mahal

I am the kind of woman
some man should build a pool for.  I am
the kind  of woman who appreciates
the reflection of the whole sky.  One 
who delights in clouds daffodil yellow,
clouds the color of sweet plums,
clouds as tall as masted ships
and clouds that hold lightning like
fireflies in a jar.
I will spend my hour of free time
languorously
swimming through that sky.
Pool of stars, pool of morning,
pool of heaven.
I am the kind of woman who wants
a small darling house, next to that pool, one
that blocks no view and lets in the light,
every light the sun and moon have to offer.
I am the kind of woman who is
jealous of the cat and dog that sleep 
in the pane of light cast on the floor like a mat.   
In spring I will bring in
yellow forsythia branches
to dress my blue vases,
in the winter I, like a snake charmer,
will draw out the white amaryllis.  I don't ask for much. 
I've learned not to ask for much-- my life
has been a workshop for that.  But.
One turquoise pool, clear as a conscience
catching every point of light, beside a modest home.
As long as I am asking, after years of not,
may it overlook a pasture, a green pasture
full of emerald-bright and lapis blue dragonflies
and may it all
overlook the ocean.  
I am asking.

Turquoise


Turquoise

I am the kind of woman someone should build a pool for.
The kind who appreciates the reflection of the whole sky, one who
delights in clouds daffodil yellow and clouds the color of bruises and
clouds as tall as buildings, clouds that hold lightning like
fireflies in a jar.
I will spend my hour of free time languorously
swimming through that sky.  I am the kind of woman
who wants a small, darling house that blocks no view
and lets in the light, every light the sun and moon have to offer
and who is jealous of the cat and dog
that sleep in the pane of light cast on the floor
like a mat.   I will bring in the yellow forsythia branch
in spring and raise the white amaryllis like a charmer of snakes
in the winter.  I don't ask for much, I've learned not to
ask for much, my life has been a workshop for that.  But.
One pool beside a home, one turquoise pool
clear as a conscience, catching every point of light.
As long as I am asking, after years of not
asking, may it overlook a pasture, a green pasture
full of emerald-bright dragonflies and electric blue dragonflies
and may it all
overlook the ocean.  I am asking.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Direction




Fog-infected the morning, cold
and damp as a fever-broken brow.
They were lost to me beyond the fog,
geese overhead, all noise
and no substance, like memories,
calling back and forth to each other.
Me, land-locked, with places to go
and no wings.  I gave them up long ago,
turned them in with my slighter dreams.
Every fall I wish them back.  
Gladly I would fly away, answer the call.
Happy to know where I was going.

The Pond

Was it more sky than water?
Of course, more water, but the sky
was evident in the reflection.
The pond stared unblinking
speaking only gray clouds until
the muted daylight was gone. Geese,
two of them, skidded to a stop
across it just as night cleared
its throat.

The Heron

Counts it bad luck
to stand in water all day
one leg wet is enough
he tucks the other tightly away
his needle-beak ever poised
above his marshy dinner plate
he doesn't even like fish
you can see it in his reserve
that stiff narrow gray disgust

Clarity, The Answer


Clarity
                                Is the clarity, the simplicity, an arriving or an emptying out?
                                If the heart persists in waiting, does it begin to lessen?
                                If we are always good does God lose track of us?  Jack Gilbert, The Answer

If we are always good, does God lose track
of us?  What comfort is there in hoping now-
the heart nearer the end than the beginning?
You lie beside me doubting, numbering fears
the way I number blessings.  You wake
in the night and feel something important
standing there.  Sleep lost to you, you rise
to stare at your gray reflection under the bathroom light. 
There is your clarity, your promise, as long as the eyes
open.  There is your revelation.  The silence in you
is absolute and inconvenient.  I cannot enter into it
with you.  I kiss you and want to tell you
in a meaningful way:  I remember
a morning at the beach when I was a girl.
It was so early it was both dawn and night. 
The wind pulled at my hair and stirred the grasses
where I sat on the white sand dune. 
My family was far down the shore. 
Near me, a heron rose blue-gray against the palest
part of the sky.  The music of the waves
played for me alone, and
kept playing when I was gone.


This is a Response poem to Jack Gilbert's  The Answer.  Here is Mr. Gilbert's poem:

Is the clarity, the simplicity, an arriving
or an emptying out?  If the heart persists
in waiting, does it begin to lessen?
If we are always good does God lose track
of us?  When I wake at night, there is 
something important there.  Like the humming
of giant turbines in the high-ceilinged stations 
in the slums.  There is silence in me,
absolute and inconvenient.  I am haunted
by the day I walked through the Greek village 
where everyone was asleep and somebody began
playing Chopin, slowly, faintly, inside
the upper floor of a plain white stone house.

Enough of Fairy Tales




When will I be good enough for you
to love?  Shall I weave thistles
into clothes?  Turn straw to gold

enough ransom to buy back your favor?
There are fables enough of wicked
parents-mostly mothers.  Stories
peopled with forlorn children-mostly daughters- the purer
their hearts the more dire the circumstance.
Maybe if fathers told the stories- some fathers-
instead of mothers, the daughters
would all be safe long before the necessary evils threatened.
Mothers adore happy endings, morality
plays, coated salty and sweet.  
All’s well that ends well enough.

My story.  It’s too sad.  There is never
a happy ending.  It only begins.
Once she had a father.  And then,
it ends.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Rewrite Mimosa


MIMOSA

The mimosa bristled pink outside my bedroom window,
its leaves collapsed in the dark, closed like praying hands. 
Each summer night I fell asleep with the scent
of it, soft and powdery, clinging to my dreams. 

When I was rewriting my days in September
with sharpened number 2s still tagged
with cleanest pink erasers and it was nearly officially fall,
mornings broke wet and chilly,
heavy as a wool blanket left on the clothesline overnight.
By noon the heat would build, would stifle,
so mornings I shivered in shirt sleeves, waiting
beside the dewy green wisteria, past its purple prime.
Uncomfortable in my own new shoes,
still stiff and shiny, 
I tried to summon confidence
before the bus arrived. 

Sometimes I plucked a feathery mimosa flower and
tucked it behind my ear on the way to the stop.
I imagined myself pretty and exotic, brave for being different,
like a Haight-Ashbury hippy in my red-neck town.
Overhead a single mockingbird
layered one song over another.  Romantic that I was,
I began my listening believing
it sang because its little bird heart overflowed
Although I knew it was only borrowing from its nature.
The first notes seemed plaintive for the lost night and dreams;
liquid, fluid, much like  my mother gently moving me
into the day and off to junior high.

As the bus topped the hill, 
that unctuous bird seemed sharp and shrill,
still carrying on, nagging like a conscience. 
Impostor and thief of songs!  I left the flower on the lawn,
too soon convinced we were both liars.

Beyond the Waste Land


Should April be the cruelest month,
then August will do us in, all
the sparks flying from sun off water-
igniting the tinder of past loves and losses.
Bright lit corners along the curbs,
deprived of dark mystery and lovers, 
beneath the trees shake every last leaf
of memory down upon us, blown along-
the whisper scraping of what once was
and what is,
mumbles of the summer wind,
foretelling  the winter and
of what might have been.   
We curl up, dying daily
beneath that scorching summer grin, infatuated
with the hopeful light and cloudless days
only to find fitful rest
between the roots remembering
the once green  life above us.  Gone
the hyacinth and lilac, gone even now the lillies,
sere.   You are the last vestige of your own desire.

Red-flagged





Confederate flag
fading from red to pink with
dimming stars and bars

claim this kindom of
old trucks in parts and rusting
frames of cadillacs

mobile home aging
white to gray, dented siding,
beer cans, home sweet home

to some kind of pride
I do not understand, as
pit bulls stand on guard.

Pearls


Pearls

When finally you think you could smile
again, you realize your teeth are broken
and you hide behind your own fist.
Not what you expected
except in that dream state
where you saw your teeth
rolling across the floor, spilling
like pearls before
you could close your lips.
Now you tell yourself
the sure secret of starting over—
You are not the same.  

For a dead cicada


For a dead cicada


A wall of sound
cicadas thrum in the tree
in the heat of a crescendo,
like mystics conjuring
tropical fevers or verdant lust.
One lies near the roots
fallen silent and still,
wings like unstained Tiffany glass,
big as your thumb  
crisp as pork rinds
hollowed out by ants
six legs bent as if 
they did not make it through
one last evening  prayer.

Diaphanous


Diaphanous

Dragonfly wings spread
Pairs of oblong kites
Crackled cellophane panels
Church panes without stains
Fragile fractured flight of prayer
Busy glint of silver
Overhead stitching 
Sky to air and day to night and
God to uncomplicated souls.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Maple Leaves



Citrine bits scatter sown over
the lake’s memory of black quartz
drifting like golden, light filled dories.
So the sowing goes all day
across the broad field of the water.
Off and on, in gusts
of well-populated wind
but sometimes in an artful dropping.
One by one each leaf settles on its twin
until the maples lose all their inhibitions .

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Sifted



Salted,
white sand encrusted
and wind blown,
noses strawberry red
shoulders blistering
we licked our lips
thirsty
from playing all day
in the waves

waiting
standing in the wind
settling our feet deeply in the sand
against the rip current
that pulled at our ankles
standing ankle-deep
looking out to sea

our hands were so small
a sand dollar filled them
completely
and cut
into the hinges of our fingers
when we tried to close our fists

a thousand small shells split
beneath our bare feet
but we felt no pain
empty relics
periwinkles
thin and crunchy
ruined
pressed into the wet sand

the littler boys ran
whooping
following the boogie boarders
muscled and tan

the young girls clumped coyly
together
along the strand
in limbo
among the sunbathers
whose mature breasts filled out
bikini bras

Mimosas



It would be a scorcher, no doubt, even in September
when we were rewriting our days with newly sharpened
number 2s still tagged with pinkest clean erasers
and we knew it was nearly officially autumn.

No matter that the morning broke wet and chilly,
heavy as a woolen blanket left on the clothesline overnight,
by noon the heat would build, would stifle. 
Standing where the school bus stopped

shivering in shirt sleeves, waiting
beside the wisteria then past her purple prime, dripping
green and dewy, uncomfortable in my own shoes
still stiff and shiny, I tried to summon confidence

before the bus arrived. 

Looking back toward home, there was the ache to re-enter
my safe, familiar room.  Outside my window
the mimosa bristled pink, its leaves collapsed, closed
like praying hands.  Each warm night I fell asleep with

the scent of it soft and powdery, clinging to my dreams.
Overhead a mockingbird, thief, imposter,
layered one borrowed song over another.
At first the notes were liquid, fluid, like my mother moving

me into the day, plaintive for the lost night and dreams.
Soon the unctuous bird seemed sharp and shrill, still
carrying on, nagging like a conscience.  The longer he continued
the more I was convinced we both were liars,

wanting desperately to fit in somewhere.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Pearls




When you think you finally could smile
again, you realize your teeth are broken
and you hide behind your own fist.
Not what you expected except in that dream state
where you saw your teeth
rolling across the floor, spilling
like pearls before
you could close your lips.
Now you tell yourself
the sure secret of starting over—
You are not the same. 

To My Father




If I should die before I wake,
my soul is up for grabs--
that Green Room of my childhood
prepared me for nothing. 
A  prayer leads me through
dream hallways like  throats,
dark and self-lubricating.  The voice

before the swallow, the belly grumbles
while we pray, the need never seems
to leave.  God bless the daddy
of all-white children, those he terrorized
and the one he did not. 
Daddy, bless the children with
all-white children.  His love unbent
like a coat-hanger snaking
through dark sensibility, snagging
anything foreign.  If I should die
before this yearning breaks, a flood
around my feet....God bless the mommy and the daughter,

the great-grandchildren, cinnamon and small;
fragile prayer of something better than great-grandpa’s
hate for the fragment of his population, dear daddy-god,
that he won’t reclaim.  Bless God, I will not wait.