IN THE CAFÉ, WARMING UP FOR POETRY MONTH

IN THE CAFÉ WARMING UP FOR POETRY MONTH

 

Do this first—this writing business. Sit here

with the starry-blue pen, composition

book. Every other thing can wait—laundry,

for example, paying the bills, thinking

about food for dinner. There are flowers

on the tables and the sills. The china mug

is green. The coffee is good, black, bitter.

But there is a problem today. The old

problem: the ideal place, the Time to Write

might not invite inspiration. You need

more than ink and time and sitting still

and black coffee. The muse feeds where she wills.

The hands on the tower clock move past ten.

You never know when she will come again.

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ANNUNCIATION WITH GRANDMOTHERS

ANNUNCIATION WITH GRANDMOTHERS

1.

First, her mother prayed No

but there was nothing

she could do. All along

she knew.

She watched

the angel announcing,

heard her daughter’s consenting.

 

2.

Many things cannot be told:

What it’s like to fall in love

(though the poets try)

To hold your child

To feel the pressure

of the hand of god

To die

 

3.

I can feel the pressure

of the mothers’ hands.

When I awaken in the night,

afraid of how my life will be,

how hard my death,

I hear them,

see them in the shadows

a spiral that will hold

from the first light’s song

to the long winding home.

DOING OUR JOBS

DOING OUR JOBS

The baby is working hard at his tasks.

Each kettle, each bowl has its surfaces,

each hollow reflects a special sound.

Will his legs hold him up today?

Will the food on his tray be strange?

Each time he yells, his people respond.

Is this the day his sounds will be words?

 

His grandmother is working, too.

Her kettle is full of white beans and herbs.

There are harmonies she is trying to remember.

Where will her feet take her?

When she cries, who will hear her?

Laughter is her practice now.

What silence must she hold in her heart?

APPEARANCES

APPEARANCES

Appearances always mattered to her,

and no wonder, for hers was stunning:

that auburn hair, round arms, her hazel eyes.

When she was young,

they called her “Gams”

and she kept those legs until she died.

 

She never understood

ragged jeans and shaggy hair,

flowers painted on the ceiling.

I never understood

matching handbags and shoes.

What she saw, I could not see.

 

She could turn collars and make

perfect bound buttonholes.

I pay someone to fix my broken zippers.

She filed receipts in labeled folders.

I throw away unopened mail.

In fact, there’s much I do not keep.

 

But there are things I do—

hymns she taught me to hold the thunder at bay,

names of wildflowers, names of sparrows.

Scent of bread and baked potatoes.

Grimm fairy tales, unexpurgated,

and words like the one I just used.