words: Not a Mast Year

pit   sew   break   fan   milky   frail


NOT A MAST YEAR--theme and variations


This is not a mast year.
I toss peach pits to the one frail squirrel
who comes to our yard. 


Am I the only one
who is not making masks?
I’ve never liked to sew—


a break with family tradition.
Degenerate daughter
of a great house.


At least the Milky Way
is a constant, fanning out
from the great starry swan.




pantoum

This is not a mast year.
I toss peach pits to the one frail squirrel
who comes to our yard.
Am I the only one


tossing peach pits, the only one 
who is not making masks?
Am I the only one
who doesn’t like to sew,


who is not making masks?
A break with the family tradition—
I’ve never liked to sew.
Degenerate daughter—


(a break in the family tradition)
of a great house.
I am the inconstant daughter.
At least the Milky Way,


great path through the heavens,
is a constant, fanning out
like spilled milk
from the great starry swan.


We need a constant: that hungry squirrel
who comes to our yard
under the sign of Cygnus.
This is not a mast year.


sestina

The one squirrel in the yard is frail.
She’ll eat anything—peach and plum pits.
It’s not a mast year, it’s a broken
one. I’ll feed the squirrel, but I will not sew.
At night, Cygnus brightens in the Milky
Way, his stars spread out in a simple fan.


I once had a sandalwood fan—
sweet scented frame, frail
silk the color of milky
tea. It didn’t last—a child pitted
against something so fine, sewn
together with invisible thread, easy to break.  


The squirrel keeps breaking
the suet feeder, opening it like a fan.
I don’t begrudge her. She is so
hungry for acorns, frail-
winged maple seeds, cherry pits,
even the tiny seeds of the milk-


weed. She breaks the stems, milky
sap sticking bitter to her paws. I break
stale bread for her, save pits
from fruit, scatter them in a fan
across the lawn. The grass too is frail,
each blade a fine strand of thread sewn


over the cracked soil. A summer so
dry the heavens complain. The Milky
Way trembles with heat. A frail
moon shines through the broken
trees. Not a breath of wind fans
the simmering ground, pitted


with dust. This is the pits.
It sucks, like having to sew
aprons in junior high. Fans
of rebellion, unite! Milk
your courage untl it breaks!
I’m so tired of feeling frail.


or the alternate last verse, which I kinda like!
with dust. This is the pits.
It sucks, like having to sew
aprons in junior high. Fans
of rebellion, unite! Milk
the bastards till they break!
Let’s stop being so fucking frail.

One comment on “words: Not a Mast Year

  1. Christine Lee Moore says:

    What an interesting exercise. I like the last verse too. And I, too, never liked to sew – unlike my mother and grands before me who could do it in their sleep. But then, none of my sisters ended up sewing. We didn’t need to. We had Woolworth’s and Grant’s and Sear’s and Penny’s. And our mother and grands.

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