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 #27: Something left behind in a place you’ve never been

SOMETHING LEFT BEHIND IN A PLACE YOU’VE NEVER BEEN

Winter Prompt #27

I left two novels.

I left five collections of poems

and scripts for six plays. I left

an article about conodonts

and a treatise on the rights of women.

I left them on that island in Maine—

I can never remember its name—

it was a two hour ferry ride—

where I didn’t live

in a small, low house in a meadow.

Not right on the shore since I couldn’t

afford it, but a short walk to the rocks

where I didn’t sit with my notebook

and my thermos of coffee

early every morning

whenever the weather permitted.

I left a few pottery bowls there, too,

a cello, a field of daffodils,

and in the shallow soil the buried bones

of a couple of dogs I loved.

Oh, and a little lilac bush that didn’t

amount to much because of the wind.

Winter Prompt #26: Ripped Paper

RIPPED PAPER

In memory of Ursula K. Le Guin

Winter Prompt #26

Tear it all up—

old bills and tax returns, bank

statements, stock certificates,

manuals and guarantees.

            But don’t stop

there. Tear up all the useless

books: archaic sciences, outdated

histories, smug theologies,

the whole thick body

of masculine pronoun,

life as battle,

possession as the highest good.

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 #23: The First To

 THE FIRST TO

Winter Prompt #23

We were always doomed,

we pioneer women, plodding,

we thought, toward a new land

while the residents of the old one

were sliding grumbling into their graves.

 

The lightless caves

were full of bears,

the forests wild with tigers.

Eagles screamed and fell

from the startling sky.

Nothing was easy.

 

The young ones have not followed.

How can we blame them?

The roads we made ended,

not in the City of God

but in the broken place we started from.

 

Some of us are still here

in our Gothic stonepiles,

wrapped in albs and stoles

tending a dying fire.

 

Some of us look sideways,

step into small houses

with open doors and warm beds,

with gently lighted windows.

We are making bread, sharing wine.

 

And some of us are climbing peaks

we could not imagine

when we started our long walk.

Our music drifts down

into the cities, shakes the towers,

rings the ancient bells.

Winter Prompt #6: Someone Else’s Shoes

SOMEONE ELSE’S SHOES

Winter Prompt #6

I would be someone else

in those lucite heels

with steam-punk gears

and holy cards; someone

else in orange stilettos.

 

Who would I be

in red leather dancing boots

like the ones on my Polish doll,

or in brown brogues or yellow clogs?

 

I was someone else, for awhile,

in the wellies I wore for apple-picking,

in the black flats that went with my robes.

 

Come to think of it,

who am I now

in these purple oxfords

or rusty hiking boots?

The sheepskin slippers I wear

when I prowl around the house

with the cats, at night.

Winter Prompts #1: Write a Proverb

A PROVERB

Proverbs 31  King James Version (KJV)

10 Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies.

15 She riseth also while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household, and a portion to her maidens.

28 Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her.

 

This woman is worth her weight in rubies, all right—

she rises while it is yet night and makes the coffee,

feeds the cats and gives them medicines.

No matter how cold, she takes the dog out in the snow.

She sits then, or tries to, while her husband sleeps,

and she attempts to write and meditate.

The white cat climbs on her desk past the candle

trying to catch his tail on fire, and settles down

on her lap. The dog yelps to go out again

because the rabbits have come to feed.

Her children—her child, really, since she has

just the one—does not rise up to call her blessed.

No one rises up before she does, to call her

blessed, or anything else, for that matter.

 

January 20, 2018

The Spring St. Poets have decided to use prompts as a way of getting ready for a reading we’re doing in late February. This is one of mine. Mos of these will be rather raw, to put it mildly.