18 March 2011
to fold the clothes. No matter who lives
or who dies, I’m still a woman.
I’ll always have plenty to do.
I bring the arms of his shirt
together. Nothing can stop
our tenderness. I’ll get back
to the poem. I’ll get back to being
a woman. But for now
there’s a shirt, a giant shirt
in my hands, and somewhere a small girl
standing next to her mother
watching to see how it’s done.
– Tess Gallagher
Image by Beaux Arts Photographie via Style Me Pretty. Read up on other Friday poems here.
11 February 2011
Afoot and light-hearted I take to the open road,
Healthy, free, the world before me,
The long brown path leading wherever I choose.
Allons! we must not stop here,
However sweet these laid-up stores, however convenient this dwelling
we cannot remain here,
However shelter’d this port and however calm these waters we must
not anchor here,
However welcome the hospitality that surrounds us we are permitted
to receive it but a little while.
Listen! I will be honest with you,
I do not offer the old smooth prizes, but offer rough new prizes,
These are the days that must happen to you:
You shall not heap up what is call’d riches,
You shall scatter with lavish hand all that you earn or achieve…
Allons! the road is before us!
Camerado, I give you my hand!
I give you my love more precious than money,
I give you myself before preaching or law;
Will you give me yourself? will you come travel with me?
Shall we stick by each other as long as we live?
– Walt Whitman
Just a little love note to send you off into Valentine’s weekend. If you’re interested in reading the whole thing, click here. Photo by Millie Holloman.
29 October 2010
If you threw her in the water
she would float upstream.
What if baby Moses had floated upstream,
bobbing toward Lake Victoria in his bullrush boat,
passing the transfixed laundry women,
leaving them behind in a wake of amazement?
What would have become of the children of Israel?
The middle daughter forgets,
there is always history.
Show her white, she sees black.
The problem is her vision.
From infancy she has thrown off
every color we wrapped her in:
first the pink, contemptuous,
and later even the blue, for reasons
we hadn’t the nerve to be thankful for.
She wants to wear red, or nothing.
And you should see her with her red shirt
flapping on her spindle body
like some solo flag,
marching up the river,
leading the salmon to slaughter.
She says they aren’t really dying.
She says something is born of swimming upstream
that finds its way back to the sea
and spreads like a grassfire through the seaweed
across the floor of underwater continents
and finally comes back to the very same river,
not one, but a thousand fish,
a generation of fish.
This middle daughter believes
she will make history.
P.S. Read up on other Friday poems here.
17 September 2010
P.P.S. I am a middle daughter :)
So much rain, so much life like the swollen sky
of this black August. My sister, the sun,
broods in her yellow room and won’t come out.
Everything goes to hell; the mountains fume
like a kettle, rivers overrun; still,
she will not rise and turn off the rain.
She is in her room, fondling old things,
my poems, turning her album. Even if thunder falls
like a crash of plates from the sky,
she does not come out.
Don’t you know I love you but am hopeless
at fixing the rain? But I am learning slowly
to love the dark days, the steaming hills,
the air with gossiping mosquitoes,
and to sip the medicine of bitterness,
so that when you emerge, my sister,
parting the beads of the rain,
with your forehead of flowers and eyes of forgiveness,
all will not be as it was, but it will be true
(you see they will not let me love
as I want), because, my sister, then
I would have learnt to love black days like bright ones,
the black rain, the white hills, when once
I loved only my happiness and you.
13 August 2010
Addison tells of spending his summer
clearing the farm his family has owned
since the revolutionary war
acres and acres of overgrown fields –
pastures and hayfields, hedgerows, forest growth –
a big enterprise for an ex-farm boy
turned minister in a flowing cassock
not handy for plowing. I’ve seen him lift
the bread and wine in pale hands above
the bowing heads of his parishioners.
And as he tells about his summer work
I see the chalice turn into a saw,
the handles darkened with his father’s sweat,
and before that, his grandfather’s, on down
the generations until the sad phrase
delivered in the garden comes to mind:
“sweat of your brow,” which now is Addison’s,
clearing the land so that we see the light
as it first shone on Adam, pruning turned
into a kind of hands-on ministry.
What did he see once the hedgerows were cleared?
The skies opening, divine light beaming down
on distant vistas of a promised land?
Salvation for God’s sweating minister?
But he saw only what was there to see –
rolling green hills such as a child might draw,
cars moving on a distant road like beads
on an abacus, a neighbor hanging wash:
the earth released and grown so luminous
that he was saved simply by seeing it.
P.S. Even though next week is Wedding Week, I’ll be popping in with a few pre-scheduled post… and maybe a few behind-the-scenes details from our preparations! Wish us luck!