From fairy-tale to Princess
we tell how we ran from witches
Handsome, bends from his horse
and saves us.
Oh, but our favorite gowns
got torn on his dagger-shoes.
How can we go to
fancy places now?
And we weep into forests,
our new homes.
Our father, the King, cannot
ransom us. Our mother, the Queen,
consults dwarves who, by the
firelight of winter,
eerily dance our names from the flames
till they run down the damp velvet
to the palace floors.
And we grow content,
braiding our endless hair in the
evenings, under the cold stars.
All the endings are ours.
We are completed by a single
Oh, but did you know
there were other pages,
dull ones and sad ones
and some that were dangerous?
Out in the barn
the white horse still in its saddle
is drooping his old adventures down,
neglected and ill-fed.
Handsome hardly smiles any more.
He rubs his sword and complains
about the dullness.
We who were never durable
cannot bring him
the first bottle of excitement,
that finished wine,
a good year.
(first pub. in Piedmont Literary Review, 1993)
SUCH A NEAT ROOM
the precise arrangements:
one cup & saucer
and on the green-painted wall
the nude in the yellow frame
who stares down at
the prim young woman
in the violet chair
sitting at the small round table
just staring off
in a mood,
waiting for the tea to cool
One page keeps slipping from the book,
freed from the center glue and place
where the words are thirstiest and the yearn
is great—one errant page that would say:
I am not part of this—no longer part of
this sequence and dense collection. I am
center page—the poem that would get free,
if only you would not keep shoving me back in.
I no longer want to be there. I want to be
like the leaf going back to the tree. Let me.
THEY SIT MEASURING
are made of wands and flowers
and come from
two different gardens.
They know magic words
where they go
when my eyes
are guarding them.
I leave them too.
They watch me go
When I come back
from long spell-binding
they sit measuring
love and time
with child-witch fingers.
TREE AS UNDERSTOOD BY ART
They say a tree of stone grows
on a wall. I’d like to see that—
touch its leaves and trunk—
find the reason for its stillness.
They say it blends against
the light-struck landscape of the wall.
They say its colors blaze in sunlight’s
window and contains them still
in moon’s soft light.
And does it suffer, or rejoice?
What cryptic mind could understand,
and then personify, a tree of stone?
“…as if on cue, a black cat came out to look
at something to the side of a photographer.
The cat is the x in this equation. I expect never
to get her out of my mind.”—Charles Simic
made real by her shadow,
in a path of light,
outlined in white from the moon
on a black and empty night—she
pauses for a moment on the windowsill
of the tremulous room:
if you can see this—
then there is a cat—
a time-held cat
on the sill—looking down
When exhausted, the wild duck flew down
into the swimming pool and floated—
floated there—staring at the day
and the day stared back
and then the shadow of the other wild ducks
crossed over and the first one rose
—Medusa, with thanks to Joyce Odam for today's tantalizing Kitchen fare with the scent of Witchcraft about it, last week's Seed of the Week. Autumn is here, sending us scurrying after blankets and quilts, bringing down last season's crop of leaves. Leaves of Change: our new Seed of the Week—either the literal leaf fall, or the turning of the pages (leaves) in a book from one time period to the next, or...? Turn over a new leaf: send your poems, photos and other art to firstname.lastname@example.org/. No deadline on SOWs, though; find more ideas for poems in Calliope's Closet, one of the fuchsia links at the top of this column. The Snake of Medusa are always hungry!—have you fed them lately?