Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Tuesday Poem: previously published in the anthology: Women.Period in 2008

                                                                                     Painting by William Blake  
Sleeping Beauty

Like a frog out of the water,
like a big clumsy fly caught in a screen,
I entered womanhood
flailing my long legs.

Jumping Double Dutch in sneakered feet,
pounding a Morse Code of denial into the sidewalk,
so it echoed throughout the neighborhood:
not me, it said, not me,
I'll play with dolls forever,
I'll be a boy
if I want to,
I'll go off and play
by the railroad tracks.

Or spinning crazy like a top
in the grass of the backyard,
almost mowing mother's roses down with my arms,
then swooning beneath our peach tree
heavy with ripening fruit.

Dizzy it always made me dizzy,
and sleepy too, this newly tilting
pigeon thrumming inside me.

Thought I'd never want
a prince bending over me,
his face so much like a brother's
with its teasing wheedling eyes,
and mouth that kisses too hard.


Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Tuesday Poem: previously published by Embers in 1987

To The Great Grandmothers

How did you take that first step
through the doorway of prosperity
into teeming gray Manhattan ?

From small villages,
and homely neighborhoods,
you voyaged to the gates of Babylon,

stepped outside of history, sailed away
from bustling Holland waterways
lined with leaning narrow houses,
turned your back on windmills
turning in slow motion,

Left the grit and bustle of Glasgow,
the smoky Staffordshire potteries,
lyric Dublin with its bicycles and pub signs,
windows full of curtain lace
reflecting narrow cobbled streets.

You made a clean break,
hearts beating a new cadence,
you marched into an adventure,
bearing talismans from home
full of prayers and promise.

And you were immortal saying goodbye –
like a bride made light by eagerness, and bravery,
ready to be swept across the threshold of mystery.

Then it must have been with sober feet
that you first planted yourselves
on United States firmament,
cast your lot in with all the rest,
tossed over in great waves,
as you were by the cold Atlantic.

And in the streets moving through
fields of faces, their patterns
intricate as Delft ware,
Royal Dalton, Limerick lace,
listening hard for a quiet space,
a familiar word in the din,
every inch of the air
and turf of the place
raucous with activity.

I wonder how your hearts
endured it: the dragon
and the labyrinth of New York,
whether poems or nightmares
danced inside your heads.

I picture your faces a little gray
from the shock of it all,
frozen, still as a photograph,
caught in a flash of insight:
in this enormous marketplace,
you would never be more than small change.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Tuesday Poem: previously published in Poetpourri in 1992

The Hunger Angels

first came to her when they were fighting.
Their whispers made her feel 
like she’d put her ear to a seashell.
They told her her father swallowed his anger.
They danced like little fireflies around him,
swirled inside his undertow of loneliness,
swam in his beer, made fun of the white heron
poses, he learned as a boy, in a kitchen
where there was never enough to eat.

She watched them hover like hummingbirds
as they buzzed her mother's fork,
oozed out of her sandwiches, as she took her 
giant bites. When Mommy sat quiet, they gathered 
in her hair, stirring up the racket of memory,
with its abuses, desertions, hard work that made her
disappear into cooking pots, and gourmet magazines.

The little girl watched the two of them
tangle with one another in despair.
The angels multiplied then, their faces
becoming her parents' faces in miniature.

Put us in your hope chest, they said
when she was eight years old.
Someday you'll open it,
and we'll have grown like dumplings,
or steamy loaves of bread.

No head of a pin for us, babe.
We’ll keep you fidgety company.
Just  fire up those cravings.

In her innocence she welcomed them,
glad to be included, not knowing
how else the story might have gone.