—Tom Goff, Carmichael
Ah, sweet bench, plunged in thicket,
monkeyflowers all around you, strange
importunate shadow-buds blossoming
Yucatan-fashion, overcovering your soft
concrete, itself abloom with sculpted relief.
How slow I’ve been to appreciate your charms,
though all that underseat shadow tells me
God can manipulate darks and lights like
stagehands at the Orinda Shakespeare Festival,
conjuring midsummer English glade-dapple
from scabbiest eucalyptus. This is why
we have poets and lighting techs. Alas,
I’ve been collecting what you might call
poetic bench-splinters, sitting here verseless,
even as your very back adorns mine,
pressing a nosegay into scapulas and spine.
But your pressure scars me only a moment.
Star thistle, I come! haunches peeling
away from memory, skinned of all floral trace,
leaving only so much ghost rosemary
as may spice my oblivious dough,
backthighs oven-ready, granular
with sitting, languid, benchmarked
& steeped in wistfulness and rue…
The idea for the bench came up at a gathering there last Mother's Day. Everyone pitched in. The inscription is a collection of words strung together by four cousins. It was important to me, to make sure everyone was involved. An emotional experience from the beginning, and especially at the end. Truly, a labor of love.
This is our bench...
—Katy Brown, Davis
A cypress bench. Three fading hollyhocks.
A lost letter. A cypress bench.
Three magenta hollyhocks. A red scarf.
Afternoon sunlight on an empty bench.
A garden of lavender tea roses.
Three pale hollyhocks in afternoon light.
A red scarf.
The low sound of bees in the rose garden.
A book of verse. The deep hum of bees in hollyhocks.
A cold pillow. A red scarf.
The low sound of bees. A book of verse.
Antimacassars. An empty fountain.
Drowsy hum of bees. A book of poems. A red scarf.
An empty bench. . . . three fading hollyhocks. . . . .
—Janet Pantoja, Woodinville, WA
Can't I stay a little longer here . . .
in this place of quiet and tranquility,
where a great expanse of green
grass meets sandy beach along the
Columbia River, where cargo ships
go back and forth, tug boats and
tow boats push and pull barges
up and down river and a paddle wheeler
journeys to parts unknown?
Can't I just stay here a little longer . . .
where the wind caresses my face,
sail boats glide by with sails illumined
by sunlight glancing across the water,
sunsets abound in an array of magnificent
cloud-art from a pallet of pastels and
burnt orange, the moon rises and falls
behind the far bank above the darkened
waters of the Columbia?
Can't I sit here a little longer . . .
to savor the sights and sounds
that fill my senses and give peace
to my anguished soul, watch kites soar
high on the breeze like hawks and seagulls,
observe great ships whose wakes cause
mini tsunamis that splash and roll along
the curves of the shore, contemplate
Nature's museum of driftwood art
displayed for miles along the beach—
Please . . .
Can I linger . . .
a little longer . . .
. . . on the bench?