Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Becoming a River

—Poems by Jennifer Fenn, Fresno, CA


Before our bus leaves
the Canadian town called Hope,
I take a morning jog.
I spot a small wooden church
nestled amid the trees.
Have I jogged into a picture
in Ideals Magazine?
I stop and admire
its white clapboard walls
and its steeple,
rising from clumps of branches.
I become part of the photo,
part of a line
to a poem beside it.

But I have to get back
to catch the bus,
leaving the poem
to flow without me.
The magazine closes behind me,
ready for the next reader
to add a line.



As I came to through the mountains I longed so to cast off
my earthly body and float away through the great pure spaces
between the peaks.         —Emily Carr

Our bus winds its way
through the black and white crags
of rocks and snow.
Clouds float like wings
of angels in filmy garments,
flying above the peaks.
In my mind, I'm drifting
out the window
with wings of my own,
my medicine and back pack
left on the bus.
I glide with the angels
over miles of pointed forests
encircling turquoise lakes.
We follow meandering rivers,
laughing in our own weightlessness.
Is this heaven?

Suddenly, I'm back on the bus,
my friend beside me.
She flashes her grandmotherly smile.
It's not my time.
I'd miss her in heaven.



The Chateau doors open
to the still, turquoise waters
of Lake Louise,
surrounded by snow-capped
Canadian Rockies.

We whip out our cameras,
clicking and laughing
as we take pictures
of every angle of each mountain,
the white of the glacier,
the clouds and sunlight
that change the water's shades of blue.

I put away my camera
and the frame it puts on the world,
drawing in the view
through my eyes' own lenses.

The water brightens,
as more mountains,
the gray of their rocks,
the green of their firs,
and the aspens' golden leaves
join the panorama.

I bend to touch
the glacial-cold water,
and inhale the crisp, mountain air,
taking it all in.



The sunset shadows fall on cracks
in brown rocks in the mountainside.
They look like men in trench coats
huddling. We wonder what they hide.
While driving on, they turn their heads
with pointed noses, shaded eyes
staring down upon our car,
thinking what? Dare we surmise?
The road noise is their whispering,
the murmurs among their crowd.
They gloat, since it's just noise to us.
To understand, we're not allowed.
In dusk, we see unwelcome glares
that tell us, "Get out of our sight!"
Before we know it, we've escaped
under blackening veils of night.



Joshua trees raise
their spiky arms in command
over sagebrush plants.
Can they conquer
Edwards Air Force Base
or the mountain?
Or armies of snakes?
Webs of tarantulas?
Forty years,
yet all those things
are still here.
This place isn't Jericho.



I became a river
flowing through the college doors
into the world.
All my A's, term papers, exams,
cap, gown, and diploma
dropped on my banks
like sediment,
rigid rules I used to follow
becoming eroded.

I meander where I like,
to places I never had time to see,
people I have time for now.
Their smiles reflect in my stream.

Go back to school?

My current crashes,
falling on rocks,
too strong to turn back.


Our thanks to Jennifer Fenn from Fresno for today’s fine poems! Jennifer has been writing poems since high school, and has been published in fifteen different journals, both in print and online, including Song of the San Joaquin, The Poeming Pigeon, Brevities, DADs DESK, and The Homestead Review. She self-published two chapbooks, Blessings and Song of the Katabatic Wind, as church fundraisers. Of her poems today, she says, “Most of them were inspired by places I saw on my road trip through the Mojave and on to Arizona and New Mexico last fall, and a trip to Western Canada the fall before.” Don’t be a stranger, Jennifer, and thanks for your  espinellas in our recent post about them.


Today’s LittleNip:

—Jennifer Fenn

Plants rise
amid ancient lava
and burnt, black hills
like hands extending
in forgiveness.



 Celebrate poetry! 
And head on up the hill to Placerville tonight for 
Poetry Off-the-Shelves at the El Dorado County Library,
5-7pm. Scroll down to the blue column (under the 
green column at the right) for info about this and other 
upcoming poetry events in our area—and note that more 
may be added at the last minute.