Words: Poetry Month, Second Day

 

bark

swim

respect

launder

 

 

POETRY MONTH, SECOND DAY

Bake the bread, brush the dog.

Feed the cats. Respect

the times. Comprehend

this chance to prove yourself.

Have you noticed 

that wet pine bark is purple? 

In the cold night rains,

the spotted salamanders rise up

from the muddy ground,

and slither to the pools 

where they’ll swim out 

their clouds of eggs.

It is Spring, despite everything.

Wash the walls. Rake the lawn.

Launder the sheets and

hang them to dry in the sun.

 

Words: The Erratic

tear

wind

stone 

stamp

 

The Erratic

Stamp the clay off your shoes!

Stand on the stone on the hill

where once the old pine stood.

This is holy ground, this boulder,

this plough-breaker. Remember

the ice that brought it here,

remember the long melt. You stand

on a rise at the bottom of the sea.

The clay on the bottom of your shoes

settled in those depths.

Remember the glacial wind.

Let the wind today purify

your winter skin. Let tears

open your eyes to the tears

in the ground. 

Words: By Way of Contrast

coffeepot

filigree

chase

novel

 

BY WAY OF CONTRAST

Grandmother’s silver coffeepot—

fine filigree around the handle,

chasing and repoussé patterning the lid.

The matching creamer, 

sugarbowl with tongs.

Her white linen napkins,

bone china cups.

 

My Mr. Coffee maker.

My red ceramic sugar bowl

patterned with spirals and stars. 

My white creamer—novel souvenier

from Columbus, Ohio.

My red-checked tablecloth.

My heavy blue pottery mug.

Words: Play of Passing Shadows

warp

sidewalk

twisted

cave

 

PLAY OF PASSING SHADOWS

Seventy years and more in this cave

learning to weave. Firelight flickers

shapes on the walls, twisted shadows

of things unimaginable passing

on the sidewalk wound around

out under the sun, or so I’ve heard.

What is the sun but a bigger fire?

All I know is here: shuttle, warp.

The threads are given, the pattern mine.

EXILE

This is the result of a writing exercise I’m doing with a couple of friends. Each of us offers a word, and then each of us makes a piece of writing using those words.  

WORDS:

latitude    embroidery     coil

EXILE

How, you ask me, do I live?

I have come so far, so very far

 

from the earths that shaped my bones,

the people who gave me blood and breath.

 

I make my choices, hold my connections.

I wash my long gray hair in rainwater

 

I catch in a bowl in my garden.

I dry my hair in the sunshine,

 

brushing it in the warmth

and light, the way Matka taught,

 

the way my sisters do

in my home place, in my latitude

 

of memory. I plait a four-strand braid,

coil it around my head. One by one,

 

in ritual, I lift the bone hairpins 

from the linen pouch Babcia gave me

 

as she gave to each granddaughter. 

I think of her, remember her

 

working the red embroidery,

the five-petaled flowers,the long-tailed birds.

THE FEAST OF ST. JOHN

THE FEAST OF ST. JOHN

 

 

. . . which I will not keep

for the evangelist.

Not for the eagle looking 

down on the world

his Jesus saves with secrets.

My Jesus looks me in the eye.

He doesn’t tell me who he is,

over and over again.

He tells me who I am,

as he told, I like to think,

that sweet boy—

that fisherman who couldn’t

write in Greek—

who left his father’s boat

and followed him.