—Janet Pantoja, Woodinville, WA
Upwards go the stairs.
They lead to some other sight.
What adventure might be there?
Perhaps just nature’s delight,
Or an untoward experience, who knows?
Do I dare? Do I dare take those . . .
Take the ascending flight
On a whim?
I’ll take them.
I’ll take the stairs—
ON MORMON ISLAND
—Trina Drotar, Sacramento
Stone steps mark where homes once stood
before an entire town was flooded. In summer,
when the rains have been plenty some months
earlier, swimmers and boaters and jet skiers
swim and boat and ski above a town they
know nothing about. In certain years, hikers
and historians and even the stray boater
can walk into the lake that covers the island
to gaze upon the remnants of a town where
people cooked breakfast, ate dinner together,
laughed and cried, where children ran and
played and went to school, where in 1955,
the town ceased to exist except during drought
years when the voices of the residents can
be heard through the quiet.
—Taylor Graham, Placerville
Under a leaden sky, my dog leads me
through the oak woods—
a place to lose ourselves, or save us,
where leafless trees hang on among
new survey stakes. I follow
past a marshy fringe, a broken bridge;
cellar cemented in soil. Rough-hewn
steps, and a ghost-chimney
of brick. Nothing more. The steps go
nowhere. Only periwinkle's witness-
blue—touch of color on a gray
day, to prove someone meant to live
here. Clouds open, blue-patched sky.
My dog runs ahead, among
oak trees hanging on, rooted to soil.
—Michael Cluff, Corona, CA
The play left unended in Act III
the charity work during summer
in either Zimbabwe or Tanzania
the call to the friend in the Pacific Northwest
who I have not contacted since
nine weeks after 911.
The pursuit of an ESL certificate
to finally finish a sociology class
taught by a good friend
yet well-dressed professor,
the ending of the hurting relationship
to let the closeted parts
completely and unashamedly
ABANDONED STEPS II
Aurora Dawn Beauchamp
The Lurie place
at the end of the block
had sideyard steps
never allowed to be used
although she was an immaculate sort
to a degree beyond the quality of nth
and still kept each and every one
dirt, stain and microbe-free.
Long hours of labor
had allowed the slate stone insets
the talent to mock and shame the sun
even on the most blemishless skied June.
And the enraged drops of September gullywashers
could never scrub the inner stains of its guilt away.
She travelled the thirteen steps up the graveyard hill
to his mausoleum all the rest of her living days
and always cleaned them too
on her way back home
to raised back porch of the house.
Thanks to today's contributors, and thanks to Trina Drotar for pointing out that I called Julia Connor "Julia O'Connor" in yesterday's post. Silly me.
Which brings me to a new Medusa rule: from now on, the first version of a poem that you send in will be the version which gets published. Some of you have gotten into a pattern of sending one (or more!) revisions—"oh, this one is much better". Rest assured that if your first version contains a simple typo, I'll probably catch it (the O'Connor thing notwithstanding). I wouldn't even mind getting a simple note from you saying "please take the third 'a' out of 'aardvark' on the fourth line". But I don't ken to having a second or even third "revised" version arrive, and then having to go word by word to see what the (usually very minor) change is. I realize that, by tolerating such behavior, I'm not doing you any favors, since such nonsense is never acceptable in publishing in general. So New Rule: First time's the one.
Besides, there are no deadlines on SOWs or any other Medusa postings. Take your time; be sure. Curb your impulse to hit the "send" button. We'll be here.
Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.