It’s Monday, Wash Day at Our House

While clothes are drying on the line
I write a line and then another about
hiding underwear behind the sheets
on the front line. Victorian secrets are
kept in original ways, washed and dried
folded and stored in the linen closet
upstairs. When they’re hung on the line
for all to see, they’re called “dirty laundry,”
and so often, you know, they have to do
with stories of having been done to, so
you understand why the underwear
is masked by clean sheets. It’s Monday.

 

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Fooling My Mother

Deep summer hung purple
from brambles in the blackberry patch
as we ate berries three at a time
grew violet mustaches and birthed freckles
in the space of an August afternoon.

Our teeth accustomed to Turkish Taffy
Bit-o-Honey and squirrel bars
we marveled at the sweetness freed
by a simple caress of the tongue.

The dropping sun reminded us
of what our mother had said,
Fill up your pails.
I’ll make jam and pancakes tomorrow.

Too late. The berries almost gone
someone said, Fill the pails with grass
with berries on top. She’ll never know.

My brain drips blackberry juice.
My fingers are stained beneath the skin.
If I squeeze my heart with my hand
it comes out purple.

After Seeing LA LA Land

Like many others seeking a measure of escape and relief from the current craziness in Washington, my sister and I went to the movies yesterday, and LA LA Land filled the bill. It was a tonic and an encouragement that the artistic community is irrepressible and will not be denied.

I wrote the following poem to mark the occasion with gratitude for community in all its forms, even those on the “big screen.”

After Seeing LA LA Land

We were all about politics as we rode to the Cineplex
hoping to lift ourselves from the slough of despond
with song and dance and great acting by pro’s
who rose to poetry on the screen. Emma Stone, Ryan
Gosling––how to repay them for their hard work?

Did they know they’d be antidote to despair
like Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire
Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert
who allowed us to escape for hours at a time
in a time that threatened peace and joy and life
itself perhaps? That’s the role that Stone and Gosling
played today in this gift of film. Hooray! for movies
and the people who bring them to us.

When I Die: Instructions to My Son

Don’t tell my grandson I’ve gone to sleep.
He might be afraid to sleep at night, might
worry he’ll disappear and not come back.

Small children with few exceptions are
literalists, and The Big Sleep doesn’t
work for them as it might for us. Tell him
the truth: I’m gone, but the love I had
and have remains forever. Tell him that
and wherever I am, I will follow through
”on a wing and a prayer.” I know it’s true
and pass it on through you, to him at two.

Yes, Virginia, There Is a God

When I was a child, I wished for a house
a small house in the woods where I could write.

I made the wish on no star, prayed to no god per se;
it was simply the unspoken wish of a child’s heart

brought to mind on a latter day
when I was grown and walking home

from my writing house on the edge of the woods
in Maine. Understanding came in a moment complete:
I had the desire of my heart.