Winter Prompt #30: View from the Top

VIEW FROM THE TOP

 

From here, the garden:

four stiff stalks of kale,

black leaves folded frozen.

Snow halfway up the rabbit fence.

The old wooden gate to the compost,

center brace broken,

its screen torn and propped till spring.

Will there be spring?

Two spiral stakes mark volunteer

asparagus, one marks the long bed

where under snow and straw

the garlic sets its roots.

Winter Prompt #28: Finding Toys on the Street

FINDING TOYS ON THE STREET

Winter Prompt # 28 

He’s on the second shelf between

the first doll I made and the bricks

I use as bookends. I suppose

he once was plush with brown velvet

paws. I never knew him plush.

One amber eye is nearly blinded

with the straggle. His joints

are still good. Maybe his mouth

and nose were embroidered

by Mother, who found him

in a trash can in front of Veterans’ Row

when she was pregnant with me

and had no money for toys.

She was learning how to live

with a husband with PTSD,

the farm boy she married—

and Mother all the way from Cleveland—

waking screaming with flashbacks

of the crashing planes, the burning

friends. Later the bear—I named

him Pooh—taught me

about steadfastness and make-believe.

About comfort and the importance

of a second chance.

Winter Prompt #27: Something left behind in a place you’ve never been

SOMETHING LEFT BEHIND IN A PLACE YOU’VE NEVER BEEN

Winter Prompt #27

I left two novels.

I left five collections of poems

and scripts for six plays. I left

an article about conodonts

and a treatise on the rights of women.

I left them on that island in Maine—

I can never remember its name—

it was a two hour ferry ride—

where I didn’t live

in a small, low house in a meadow.

Not right on the shore since I couldn’t

afford it, but a short walk to the rocks

where I didn’t sit with my notebook

and my thermos of coffee

early every morning

whenever the weather permitted.

I left a few pottery bowls there, too,

a cello, a field of daffodils,

and in the shallow soil the buried bones

of a couple of dogs I loved.

Oh, and a little lilac bush that didn’t

amount to much because of the wind.

Winter Prompt #26: Ripped Paper

RIPPED PAPER

In memory of Ursula K. Le Guin

Winter Prompt #26

Tear it all up—

old bills and tax returns, bank

statements, stock certificates,

manuals and guarantees.

            But don’t stop

there. Tear up all the useless

books: archaic sciences, outdated

histories, smug theologies,

the whole thick body

of masculine pronoun,

life as battle,

possession as the highest good.

Winter Prompt #25: Sand

SAND

Winter Prompt # 25

Holiday Point, South Hero,

that summer between houses.

 

Popham Beach in the fog,

the first time I met the sea.

 

Fred’s Beach, Fourth of July,

hotdogs. Fireworks over the water.

 

White Strand of the Blasket, inviting,

dangerous, like its mothering land.

 

Kitty Hawk, where the first flight paths

are measured by stones.

Winter Prompt #24: Lid off a Jar

LID OFF A JAR

Winter Prompt #24

Rusted on. The bail jar is full

of round black balls. Plums? How long

have they been here in the dust,

on this webby shelf?

She’s been dead how many years—

the woman whose house this was,

whose name I’ll never know.

A plum tree in the garden,

sheep in the pasture long grown up

to houses and lawns. New houses

not like this crazy one, layers

of wallpaper peeling, wide chestnut

floorboards, the space against the wall

where the kitchen stove used to stand.

Winter Prompt #23: The First To

 THE FIRST TO

Winter Prompt #23

We were always doomed,

we pioneer women, plodding,

we thought, toward a new land

while the residents of the old one

were sliding grumbling into their graves.

 

The lightless caves

were full of bears,

the forests wild with tigers.

Eagles screamed and fell

from the startling sky.

Nothing was easy.

 

The young ones have not followed.

How can we blame them?

The roads we made ended,

not in the City of God

but in the broken place we started from.

 

Some of us are still here

in our Gothic stonepiles,

wrapped in albs and stoles

tending a dying fire.

 

Some of us look sideways,

step into small houses

with open doors and warm beds,

with gently lighted windows.

We are making bread, sharing wine.

 

And some of us are climbing peaks

we could not imagine

when we started our long walk.

Our music drifts down

into the cities, shakes the towers,

rings the ancient bells.

Winter Prompt #22: Crust

CRUST

Winter Prompt #22

I used to study this stuff:

mantle, crust and core.

The mantle and core poetic,

metaphor:

                  Mantle

the thin dark covering

of protection, something

a goddess might wear,

or a saint.

         Core

the golden heat—at least

golden in the texts—

at the center. The wobble,

the weight.  But

          crust

recalls chicken pox blisters,

chapped lips, skinned knees,

burnt toast on school-day

mornings. Shiftiness,

instablility. Not poetic,

only metaphorical.

Winter Prompt #21: A Country-Western Song

 

A COUNTRY-WESTERN SONG

Winter Prompt #21

Refrain:

He came through the night,

runnin’ all alone.

All he’d had to eat

was a thrown-out chicken bone.

 

 

This old cat has seen a lot of years

From the night I saw him first—

A streak of white across the drive,

Just fur and bones, but real alive,

All hunger, fight and thirst.

 

Refrain

 

We trapped and took him to the vet

We thought we’d set him free

When he was fixed and had his shots,

But it turned out he liked us lots—

My good old man and me.

 

Refrain

 

So now he’s sleeping on the chair

All full of fish and cream.

It goes to show that any stray

Just needs a hand along the way

To realize his dream.

 

Refrain, fading. . . .

Winter Prompt #20: Bivouac

BIVOUAC

Winter Prompt #20

Whenever I look, I see you twice.

The tent in the forest by Texas Falls

and the couch where you go

those nights you can’t sleep.

The rocky lake shore

in the moonlight and wind

and the chair where you doze with the cat.

This double vision is a peculiar

blessing to the old,

living as we do in many places

with so much behind

and so much less ahead.