—D.R. Wagner, Elk Grove
Near the very brink of these falls, the water
Has a change of heart and becomes blue
Silk. Yards of it unwinding over the edge,
A sweetness no one can touch, catoptric
With the sky and anxious in the eyes of
An afternoon spent like this. The air
Begins to have other ideas and holds
Itself just at the edge of it all, for a moment
Then resumes that endless spilling of water
From the heights, blue silk unwinding
Into the river gorge below. No one has seen
This. It can only be written of and then, only in season.
—Taylor Graham, Placerville
All those worms transforming saliva
into silk, each tiny, voracious
creature feasting on mulberry leaves;
digesting, shedding skins until,
from the larva's lip—a spinneret,
a spittle-spindle—silk emerges
in a single strand spun in figure-eights,
layer on layer, a mile of silk-saliva
hardened to cocoon. Of course the worm
must die, its silk woven into waves
of jade and turquoise, eddies
of fabric delicate as spit—a scarf,
a robe with wing-wide sleeves.
She'll walk the riverbank, carefully
unwind her cocoon and step out
into blue silk rippling
of a transforming current.
From juice, translucent amber in the glass,
the morning sequence moves like shadow
of a Tuesday sun across the green-white
privet flower, the spotted stone that makes
Zen garden of a plain front yard; chance
crossing of the street on quick diagonal—
a girl in blue silk skirt and jingle ear-rings,
then an old tweed neighbor ambling her
brindle dog—such freedom of a sidewalk.
Already it's nine o'clock, two hours before
Mrs. White comes to clean up the kitchen
and fix his lunch. So much happens, out
the window, without opening of a door.
THE SENSITIVITY OF CROWS
—Claire J. Baker, Pinole
We see crows surround
a fallen member of the flock,
waxen feathers blue-black
in meadow sunlight—
waiting until the bird spirit
then, as one, crows spread wings,
tuck feet, fly as high
as crows can ever fly.
BLUE SILK IN BROOKLYN, 1940
—Patricia Hickerson, Davis
Tante Bosch, wife of Uncle Bosch, i.e.,
Captain Bosch of the Seven Seas—
I never knew Tante’s real name, just Tante Bosch,
my first headache, age 12,
in their Brooklyn apartment;
Tante floated out of their bedroom to greet us
(oh my head, my head!)
on a crest of blue silk; she was the great-aunt of
my uncle’s wife, Grayce—Grayce also
in blue silk with black satin
delicate suede sandals, spike heels
Prince Matchabelli perfumes
Grayce explained about oil-based and water-based scents
teaching me the blue silk style of luring men
could I ever, ever be equal to these yards and yards
of blue silk?
Grayce talked about Tante Bosch
it was like one icon to another
Tante bathed in milk all her life
skin white as snow beautiful even in her 70s
walking through the Bosches’ vast layout
rooms hot as Borneo
I got a headache from all the sea chests, the candles,
the carvings, the incense, the batiks, the beads
the rich hangings from Malay, blue silk from Macao
and other colonial possessions—
I had to take an aspirin, maybe it was the schnapps
or all the exoticism, the eroticism, the blue silk—gosh,
I asked myself
how many quarts of milk
did Uncle Bosch have to pour
to cover Tante’s breasts
after she lowered herself into the tub?
she was not a small woman
a short snowy lump
skin smooth as satin from bathing in milk
Uncle Bosch must have loved to stroke
that silken flesh, don’t you think?
better than handling wood of a ship’s wheel…
oh hell, hand me the aspirin
There is no
It has its own door.
It names the heart
In whatever language
It chooses. There is no
Defense. We stand
Naked before it and
Are committed upon
And within, it becomes
Like breathing as
Explained by wonder.
P.S. When I was featuring James Lee Jobe yesterday (see “Older Posts” at the bottom of this box, or go to “Medusa’s Rap Sheet” over near the bottom of the skinny blue box), I forgot to mention his blog, Putah Creek. He was blogging ‘way back when Medusa was just a wee snipper-whapper! Go to jamesleejobe.wordpress.com and see what I’m talkin’ about.
P.P.S. Word of the Day: Catoptric (see D.R.'s poem above). How many times have you used "catoptric" in a poem?
Valentine’s Morning, gray and silver...rain
and gusting wind—birds don’t know what to
do, yesterday they were so happy...they were
planning on singing today.