Winter Prompt #30: View from the Top

VIEW FROM THE TOP

 

From here, the garden:

four stiff stalks of kale,

black leaves folded frozen.

Snow halfway up the rabbit fence.

The old wooden gate to the compost,

center brace broken,

its screen torn and propped till spring.

Will there be spring?

Two spiral stakes mark volunteer

asparagus, one marks the long bed

where under snow and straw

the garlic sets its roots.

Winter Prompt #28: Finding Toys on the Street

FINDING TOYS ON THE STREET

Winter Prompt # 28 

He’s on the second shelf between

the first doll I made and the bricks

I use as bookends. I suppose

he once was plush with brown velvet

paws. I never knew him plush.

One amber eye is nearly blinded

with the straggle. His joints

are still good. Maybe his mouth

and nose were embroidered

by Mother, who found him

in a trash can in front of Veterans’ Row

when she was pregnant with me

and had no money for toys.

She was learning how to live

with a husband with PTSD,

the farm boy she married—

and Mother all the way from Cleveland—

waking screaming with flashbacks

of the crashing planes, the burning

friends. Later the bear—I named

him Pooh—taught me

about steadfastness and make-believe.

About comfort and the importance

of a second chance.

Winter Prompt #24: Lid off a Jar

LID OFF A JAR

Winter Prompt #24

Rusted on. The bail jar is full

of round black balls. Plums? How long

have they been here in the dust,

on this webby shelf?

She’s been dead how many years—

the woman whose house this was,

whose name I’ll never know.

A plum tree in the garden,

sheep in the pasture long grown up

to houses and lawns. New houses

not like this crazy one, layers

of wallpaper peeling, wide chestnut

floorboards, the space against the wall

where the kitchen stove used to stand.

Winter Prompt #19: Forget Matilda

FORGET MATILDA

Winter Prompt #19

No problem. I never, ever

remember her. Waking at 4 a.m.,

that old fear clutching—I am not

remembering Matilda. Walking

by the sea, filling my pocket

with white pebbles, admiring

the pair of osprey hovering

beyond the tide-line, I do not

think of Matilda. Stretching

my ice-cleats over my boots,

clipping the leash on the dogs’ collar,

following the ways of rabbits

through the snow—no Matilda.

Singing lonesome madrigals,

buying onions and soap,

drinking coffee with my husband,

feeding the cats,

reading to our grandson—

Matilda never enters my mind.

I have long list of sorrows,

but the one thing I do not regret —

I never remember Matilda.

Winter Prompts #10: Prophecy

PROPHECY

Winter Prompt #10

The same thing as always, saith the Lord.

You people (O my people) will never learn

You rich loll—not on ivory couches—but still you loll.  

Still you sell my poor.

Wars and rumors.

Every mountain and hill made low,  but—

and this is important—not by me.

It’s not odd

that so many of you don’t believe.

Everything I can do, you can do better.

So this is official, saith the Lord.

I give up.

You’re on your own.

I’m the one whose faith

is gone.

Winter Prompts #8: Bless what there is

BLESS WHAT THERE IS FOR BEING

      ~Rilke

Winter Prompt #8

Bless this runny nose.

I am alive.

Bless the ancient white cat

whose long hair covers my clothes.

Bless the darkness outside my window

and the brass lamp that shines

till the dark goes down

the west rim of the horizon.

Bless the notebook and pen,

the words on slips of paper,

the red book, the green-rimmed bowl.

Bless Debbee’s art, and the one bud

on the cactus that always blooms late.

Bless the crack beside my thumbnail

that reminds to to pray

for everyone in pain.

CLOSETS

CLOSETS

. . . open every closet in the future and evict

all the mind’s ghosts. . .

~Hafiz, trans. Daniel Ladinsky

Some closets are full

of sentimental things that mattered once:

toys and photographs, letters, old poems.

The ghosts tiptoe around the dusty boxes;

their bony toes rattle on the floor.

The ghosts moon over a ragged doll,

caress a tattered book.

Other closets are stuffed with

things of the mind, things of the heart:

things I might have done,

things I might have made,

people I might have loved.

The ghosts shake their powdery heads.

Ah, they whisper, your precious past.,

so sad, so sweet, so—passing.

 

The ghosts are not so easy to evict.

They cajole, they whine,

touch all my soft spots.

They look like my mother,

my dead sister,

the men who came so close.

They say they remember

all the stories I have to tell,

so how can I send them away?

When I look fierce at them,

they weep.

 

You are future ghosts!  I scream,

You are not the past,

you are not even memory, 

but fear of memory and its distortion.

You are not keepsakes, but anticipation of loss.

You are anxieties of times to come, 

you cover my pasts with corruption,

you haunt my futures with regret.

Be gone!

 

The ghosts whimper, they cringe.

I stamp my feet, wave my broom.

They diminish.

They flutter away like ragged moths.

The future becomes nothing but itself

and all my things, nothing but things.