So far no one has thought
to butcher the forsythia that
arcs in a long wild line
and curves around to the lane.
From the kitchen window I
can see the bending branches. A
male cardinal perches high,
his mate some branches below. He
swings in the winter wind.
Although I know they can find
plenty to eat in the woodland
around the house, still I hung
seed bells, food until spring,
hoping to keep the birds close
for company in this rented house.
Iíve wintered over here once
before and watched. Since
l came, a whole year of bloom,
almost nothing my own. Can you blame
me for doing so little
planting? I had not thought Iíd settle
in so long. I found a white drift
of snowdrops, then daffodils and a blue raft
of grape hyacinths. In late May,
twenty peonies, enough for me to cry
over when Iím gone. The terraced
gardenís fine for herbs to harvest.
This year Iíll put in thyme, lemon thyme,
oregano, and certainly some
rosemary. Iíll plant one rose for
the next woman to find when I am far
from this place. I like to think how
she will watch and wait for the show
of buds, wonder at the gifts of bloom
unknown women left to grace her home.
What is it that I leave behind
when I leave these for her to find?
Even the best-intentioned
hands can slip.
I wait for the cheap thrill
of short-lived pain.
Agape and drooling,
still I would be affable.
When asked, I spit, open
wider, turn my head a bit;
in short, I cooperate.
Now itís hopeless
to aspire to wit, to join
the jesting that passes
over my head, that is meant to amuse
me, the patient; bibbed and trapped,
I would seem effortlessly brave.
Hours later, the numbness is gone.
From such experiences, synapses
activate. New metal and old
arc. The body sends itself electric
news; through galvanic reactions,
I gain a new sense of myself.
The Copper Bowl
He'd invited her to luncheon on his terrace.
"In summer I like to dine al fresco," he said,
"and it would give me great pleasure
if you'd be my guest.
I'm no fine chef, but if you'll take your chances..."
"Dine," she thought, "I'll bet you dine.
Don't you ever eat?"
But she'd accepted
and now found herself sitting at the table
he'd so carefully set
with calculated imperfections
of mismatched plates and polished crystal
to say, "No woman
On the table
a few sprigs of argeratum
and coleus paid modest tribute.
Coleus and argeratum edged the terrace
in neatly weeded beds;
at the corners pink geraniums
bloomed in whitewashed pots.
The greenest of lawns
sloped gently down from the terrace
where they sat at luncheon.
Omelette aux tomates.
She picked at the food and thought
of Henry James and
of the virtuous attachments she'd had.
They marched across her plate
in dress whites.
She looked at her host,
"Who is this man?" she was wondering
when she saw a gnat laboring
across the checkered linen.
The chilled wine in the glasses
all covered with beads of water
caught the sunlight.
She thought of picking
off the gnat;
she thought of putting
a cube of ice in its path
and changing its climate
thought of the spreading stain
of cool water;
thought of plucking
a bean from her salad
and holding it redolent
with garlic and oil and vinegar
near the gnat
in an olfactory heaven.
Even, she thought
of discreetly crushing
into the checkered cloth.
Entertaining these thoughts,
He'd seen the gnat too,
thought it merely
another perfect imperfection
and dismissed it
from his thoughts.
He noticed her smile and was pleased;
turned his attention
to the copper bowl of fruits
and was pleased with the rich
of apricots and peaches and bananas
and grapes in the copper
of the bowl that had survived
About the author:
I teach literature and creative writing at Drexel University in Philadelphia, PA USA where I am the advisor to Maya, the student literary magazine. I have been appointed Director of a program leading to a Certificate in Writing and Publishing.
My poetry has been published in a number of print magazines, among them: The Iron Horse Literary Review, The Painted Bride Quarterly, Boulevard (for which I am a contributing editor), The Mid-American Review, The Southern Humanities Review, Pulpsmith, and Confrontation.
Online my poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in the Small Spiral Notebook, Drexel Online Journal, the Vocabula Review, Three Candles, the Poetry Super Highway, For Poetry.com., Word Riot, The Front Street Review, Open Wide, Segue, edificeWRECKED!, Shampoo, Branches and Blaze.
My short fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in ELF: Eclectic Literary Forum (print) and online in Slow Trains, Littoral, Storied World, Southern Ocean Review and Xaxx.
© 2011 Word Riot