April 2007


The times when she would sit

in the small, yellow-papered kitchen

near the bay window, she would gaze

outside, silently, and I

wondered, what is she staring at?

The crooked branch that used to suspend

our plastic tire swing? The old stump

that remained after the hurricane

knocked over the elm?

Or the birds twittering around

the bell-shaped seed, proclaiming spring

weeks before the calendar caught up–

I didn’t know.

She never explained

although her eyes would try to,

quietly, but louder than the birds’ song.

——-

This is the product of a poetry exercise I did at a recent workshop–we were told to write “the poem that is in between” two poems that were read out loud by the group. The poetry written by the other participants was absolutely amazing! We had five minutes to write–sometimes a time constraint can be paralyzing, but in this case, everyone wrote something.

Let’s play funeral home
she said, seated before her vanity mirror

I watched her powder her face
fragile skin like tulip leaves

cherry rouge seeped into the crevices
around her eyes and near her mouth

embalmed with her lilac talcum powder
death hovered around the periphery

*********

An exercise using three words/ concepts:

tulip, powder, and d e a t h