Housework

things are gathering dust:

a mountain of must to sort,

slates to clean, a mean pile

of work to make this smooth

clock tick

 

but we have time, a garden art,

in these few hearts planting seeds

where the world’s wind will

snap no branch, let spirits

grow sky-straight

 

it’s not too late:

a touch of forbearance

at the end of the world

goes down cozy as coffee

and heartening as wine,

true-vine compassion

that forgives this mess

 

You seek flowers

Here, see: cupped in my hands

the last of them—spice-scented,

thousand-petaled, gold—

believe me

 

Friend, the world has gone

dust-dry, apostate

but I have a spring,

winter-heart hidden

 

These are the bloom

of all our life’s fruit,

watered, deep-rooted:

have them

 

Gradation

I will avoid tints of sentimental;

if there is one thing we both hate

it is someone telling us how we should

feel. I will only say thanks

for allowing me to mother you

through trial

and error.

 

I will not say go forth and conquer,

but I will say continue and become

in every hue even when you don’t

believe any action or non-action

is of consequence.

It is: every shadow,

every glint.

 

Literary in the Forest

Miss Havisham, dear Ophelia, let us flee

this dark house, the cruelty of misplaced

desire, the paneling of which is suitable

only for our coffins. Let us find another wood,

a brighter home of our own choosing, lush

with fern, moss-hushed, honeysuckle glinting,

scenting the sunlight and the hill-born(e)

breeze. Let us step from the shade into glade

of pink foxglove, listen for rocks’ water-song

and silence of trees.

                                            There is no revenge in pity,

no sympathy in surrender, so cast off your wrecked

dresses, your sodden tresses; care not about full-

filling hours. We will study butterfly wings, speech

of birds. We will deck ourselves with wild roses—

or toss them at the b(r)ook.

 

Great Depression Love Story

Everything dust but his cool words

in the diner, that just-different drawl

that marked him as from not-around-here.

A tall drink of water, hair dark beneath hat

and if his frame was rail-lean yet the sinew

was tough and railroad work demanded

muscle. He talked to you (he loved to talk),

charm reinforced by the monotonous

backdrop: bleached-dry tumbleweed

ranchland, scraggled ranks of prickly pear.

Your courting not about picture shows,

fast cars, stolen touches; only coffee

and maybe pie, sweet talk and dreams

of a lush green future, anywhere else.

 

Inspired by this dVerse Poets Pub prompt, writing about family history.

Youngest

I’ve watched you on the beam,

all long legs and determination.

Over and over the cartwheel

launched with good vision,

feet seeking blindly the graceful

finish, perfection.

 

I have to tell you now,

there is no perfection

on this gravity-massive earth.

But there is always-getting-better.

 

I’ll tell you this as well, though

you are not the girl for metaphor—

You need these same skills

for every challenge: balance,

trust, strength in the core.

 

Houses (A Love Poem)

The one where you built, brick by brick

the half-walled flower bed, where we never

got around to the deck, where scorpions came

in the showers, where we set up the first crib.

 

The one-bedroom up a flight of dark stairs

where I wrote stories and school papers,

where we ate Hamburger Helper and the kitchen

rack slipped our wine-glasses to the floor.

 

The one with 1940s flooring and south view

of winter sun, where the laundry chute

opened on the basement where I worked

while my father died. The crib again, there.

 

The one with the teeny yard we cut with shears,

marigolds on concrete and opossums on the fence.

The one on the cul-de-sac with kids, a military circle

of playground, hospital, sleepless nights and 9/11.

 

The one I loved and you hated, money pit with

garden surround. Another crib, endless contractors.

Where you built, board by board, the deck,

where for 10 years we slept to rain on skylights.

 

This one, concrete-modern, echoing white and screenless,

where I have my very own workroom overlooking

neighbors’ lush gardens, where rain and stars are muffled

by a host of concrete houses, strangers shut within.

 

It is easy to forget, day by day, the places outside

of photos, the 22 years of furniture, curtains, carpet.

Where we fell into bed, fell into and away from each other,

began a new day again and again and again.

 

Last night, I glimpsed the full moon shining

through the balcony’s metal blinds.

You were sleeping but I wanted to tell you,

I would go with you anywhere, and still be home.