Monday, September 13, 2010

A guest in my mother's house

Into the depths of darkness
my mother turns,
turns her back on life
to journey an unseen path.
Turns her back on me, a guest now
in her vacant house.
A visitor, insecure,
uncomfortable on the hard
Puritan pew I inherited.

Though I sleep in her bed, eat
from her dishes,
I am outside looking in
to when
I was mothered
however awkwardly,
to when
I worshiped her competence,
courage, independence.
To when
I released, at last,
my resentment and anger

I squat by the pond

In response to Human Being's challenge to write a poem using a list of words (as many as possible) she has extracted from various comments on her blogpost, I submit the following.

Her list of words is: grateful, life, rocks, a pile, resonates, understanding, appreciating, childlike, tapestry, self, listen, breath, blessings, beneath and survive.

A Pile of Rocks

Childlike, I squat by the pond,
listen to the frogs,
breathe in the tapestry of nature's blessings.
Beneath my feet, earth trembles,
fire, water, wind and rocks
resonate, quake, flare and blow.
Life, so complex yet so simple.

For Rent

Unusual structure near beach:
two arms, fingers beringed.
Two legs, feet bare.
Grey head packed with memories.
Trunk contains well-worn life enhancing systems
though lacks a heart.
But you can get them cheap at Job Lot.
No smoking, pets okay.
Suitable for one person.
$800/month, heat included.
Available now. Lease. References.
Only the serendipitous need apply.


Day after day
I do nothing
but sit in the yard and watch
the marsh water rise and fall,
listen to the hour toll in the village steeple,
watch the kayakers in bright colors
paddle quietly among ducks and swans.

If only I could accept myself,
the being I am
I would be in paradise.

The Poet Makes It Looks So Easy

Words that hum

taut lines

an effortless bridge from image to image

at the end, the aha.

But me

I get a few good line breaks,

a metaphor, a clever image,

a poignant note,

correct spelling even.

Apparently solid and firm.


like night dreams at sunrise,

snowflakes on the window pane,

the words dissolve

and I am left with cross outs and arrows

false starts and a furrowed brow,

letters scattered across the page

like noodles for alphabet soup.


We both startle:
I from the flutter of wings
against water,
she from the grate of my boot
on pavement.
Without a backward glance
seeking shelter, she rises
from the stream, flies low
over the grasses
while I sit on the bench and stare
at the water, regretting my noisy self.

A Touch of Spring

The snow melts
rivulets run down the side of the road
birds chirp
a distant chain saw, the fall of the tree
the rush of the overfull river
my feet squelch in the mud
I breathe in the clean mountain side air
And thank mother nature for this respite
from the cold isolation of winter.



For lack of a bookmark
I lost my place
in the book of life.

If only I'd turned down the page
used one of my frizzy hairs
kept my finger in.

Now, I open the book here
open it there
seek familiar words

The marks seem strange, meaningless:
she did
she said
she was.
She was?

I must begin again
with a blank page and fresh pen,
form new sentences
new phrases

move forward
word by word
chapter by chapter
and make my final mark.

I have learned nothing

I have learned nothing from my years on earth.
No lessons guide me away from mistakes which
accumulate like outgrown but not discarded clothes:

dirty linen locked in a series of trunks
carried on my back from town to town.
I have lost the keys, if I ever had them.

I could discard the trunks, leave them behind.
Instead, in some stubborn grasping
I keep vigil over them,

thinking they will reveal the answers,
thinking the past has some significance
that will lend depth to the present moment,
that will explain it all, point me to the way.


Because you asked about my father,
I will tell you he planted apple trees.
The apples were large and worm free,
plenty for pies and applesauce.
For hours he sat in the barcalounger
reading books such as these:
The Radicalism of the American Revolution,
Cosmogenesis, Quantum Reality.
On weekends there was football or baseball.
He collected stamps, played chess, developed
photographs, looked at the stars.

He was happy, the story goes,
to spend his last years isolated,
except for Mom, in a people barren
He must have been lonely. Who
shared his interests? Mom read romance novels.