Monday, August 08, 2011

Garden As Spirit

Photo by Viola Weinberg


—Viola Weinberg, Kenwood, CA 

There, beyond the 8’ cannas
blazing red, with firecracker throats
There, aside the path of persistence
that turns happy each year on
the eve of her birthday, the lilies
and their irrepressible joy
the purple, the throaty yellows
streaking each trumpet, the bees
moving through the hefty blooms
to the delicate golden bells of
the last two who greet the poet
late in the summer, in pale might

There, in the air, waving lazily
the long-legged sunflowers with
their happy faces, turning toward
the light, as they do each day
Below, the ambitious snow peas
and scarlet runners climbing
ladders and a tepee of willow
in a sea of tomatoes with names
like Golden Hillbilly, Black Crim
Mortgage Lifter and Yellow Glockenspiels
that nod to the perking chilis
ablaze in two boxes, sweet and hot

O, the song of it, the symphony
and happy chaos of growing things
The healing scent of green leaves
unfurling like resolute flags of no country
The guardian Echinacea fierce and pink
stands on the prow of the garden’s ship
guides the humble weed picker
through the rags of the natural, teaches
patience and makes a good tea for the sick
On the wall of the old tin shed, sprawl
night flowers from the island that bloom
as they please in the full sail of moonlight



Long since surrendered
Strangely ample and triumphant
He scratches my back
I help him choose the green ink

I wasn’t his first, or his first love
Or his second wife; I came at exactly
The right moment of the time of his life
I, who had ten recipes and 10,000 poems

Now wash his bottles, labor
Over roast chickens and lavender
Laugh at his bad jokes, fold his laundry
And castrate his detractors

—Viola Weinberg


—Viola Weinberg

Once in a while dining at the club
She went crazy, she stood and tore her
Tailored linen blouses to shreds
The place was always speechless
For a full minute the buttons flew
No silver rousing, no wine glass raised

At other tables, other women
Sat with their ankles crossed
In dresses of georgette and chiffon
They looked dimly into their plates
It was Sunday, Family Day at the club
But at our table, her big breasts

Were falling out of their white cups
And the caw that uttered from her throat
Bounced from the buffet table to the pool
Just as suddenly, she swept through
The rooms like a regal yacht with a hole in the hull—
Her flapping napkin flown low across the bow


—Viola Weinberg

Among the dinner plate dahlias
With their candy-stripes and
Russet flags, below the lilacs
The lavish crown on a Japanese bridge

We pose like Claude and Alice—
Weathered and seasoned
In our beautiful Borsolino hats
In our finery and nervous smiles

With grown children to share
And grandchildren already in-arms
With the sun pointed midway
On our ornate and strange sundial

We are here, proving that even
The forlorn, the beaten poets and their poems
From long storms of reality, even those with
Pure pain flowing freely from an artery

Even these poor, shivering birds
In this one mighty tree can fly again
Frightened but brave, we both step into
Thin air with intense, deeply-held delight

It is afternoon, time to softly coo and croon
It is the long sun on a cold wall of stones
The puzzle has been solved by the puzzled:
Love, when allowed, builds a palace of itself


—Ann Wehrman, Sacramento

in a dream last night
I found myself
in a strange house, your house
the house I’ve never seen

the entryway hung
with jackets and scarves
each spacious room
its own world
wood panels, rich drapes
everything clean
as if polished with lemon oil

silent, cautious
expecting you to return at any time
I thumbed through
your LP collection
inspected one well-worn cover

the middle room, warm with lamps
held thick books evenly shelved
yellows, browns, warm golds
hardwood floor shone in the hall

in the wide front room
a tiered display case over the mantel
climbed to the heavens
narrowing as it rose like a pagoda
displaying photos behind glass
your wedding photos at the top
you two fresh, young, happy
lower tiers showing you
in crowds after formal events
your face bright
your hair a soft cap

the display and the house
sang a song unbearable to my ear
yet I listened in fascination
moving slowly in each room
a little drunk, taking in your
elegance, taste, and commitment


—Ann Wehrman

I dance in your invisible arms
strong, yet lighter than gossamer silk
emotional, not flesh and bone
conjured from passion, compassion, fantasy

your arms in formal black satin
or linen, fine wool, pristine stock
my hand weightless on your sleeve
we glide down Main Street
past barristers, bums
housewives, schoolgirls
all counseling doubt, fear, mistrust

I pay them no mind
in your arms, I go lightly


—Ann Wehrman

not just evil, but primeval, prime evil
roots, moss, maggots
fallen leaves, branches
loamy floor, pitch-dark nights
stars invisible past thick thatch
gnarled trees interweaving
jack in the pulpit, lady’s slipper,
wide-eyed deer, clear streams, fairy circles
forests are endangered, not evil or dangerous
Titania and Oberon still
nest in forest bowers, invisible to modern eyes
scarlet macaws fly over Yanomani tribesman
huddling around a laptop
reading how deforestation could be halted
within ten years


Today's LittleNip: 

—Ann Wehrman

quiet, deep
warm in the house
outside, breeze cools
the ninety-degree day to
liquid dark, rustle of leaves
smoke trail from someone’s cigarette
dog’s bark from blocks away
sporadic traffic still strives
at home, darkness spreads, time slows
room for dreaming, letting go
night reigns


Thanks to our contributors today for talking to us about love and gardens and forests and all the Big Subjects. Of course you know Viola Weinberg, Sacramento's Poet Laureate Emeritus who served with Dennis Schmitz as our Very First, and Ann Wehrman, whose rattlechap, Inside (love poems), was Rattlesnake Press's Very Last. So far.

And may I call attention to another new feature on Medusa's Kitchen: our Question of the Day over in the green box on the bulletin board. Today's entry happens to be very concrete (does ANYbody know the name of that park?—it's so beautiful, such a wonderful place to sit and listen to the water and wake up the Muse), but generally these questions will be intended more to, well, wake up the Muse, rather than have finite answers. And feel free to send in your own questions. I think we have too many answers, not enough questions......


Rehearsal Party
—Photo by Viola Weinberg