Sunday, January 11, 2015

Domestic Art

There is
           something
about laundry, eyed, hanging on a line outside, blowing in the wind,
                                       gathering
to it, the fresh scents of the air, the grass, the soil.
Like each
article, its own story, bodiless
but embodied
by the breeze, or words
with sunlit possibilities, written as a list, channeling a draft,
generating poem.

Too, something about hanging each item separately, shaking
it out, clipping—
calming.
Then, linen, cotton, single socks,
sheets, side by side, mingling, evidencing kinship, in flight
with each gust, unruly, billowing like flags of capitulation, shaking
in surrender.

Or seen in a neighbor’s yard:  an ink black nightie, too sexy
for an old lady, (not viewed as condemnation, just noted as a curiosity)
alongside doilies, embroidered, flowered pillowcases,
her husband’s underwear.

There is no shame in laundry.  All is clean.  Though the children giggle,
make fun, sense that privacy is on display.  Delicacies,
                                      like stolen candy.


Dried quickly on a Midwest summer day,
a woman
with basket hoisted like a baby on her hip
comes out to change loads.  The children scatter, not wishing to render
help.  This means a few moments of silence for the mother.  She works
slowly, enjoying a time of neither ennui nor enthusiasm, gradually
works her way toward the end, sighs, folds the last item, holds it up to her
face, smelling the fresh, crisp aroma of her labor, inhaling the possibility
of a poem.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Home

I have a home   I have memories of an earlier home
I have children   I was an only child
I have the near constant hum of noise
I remember the sounds of fighting
and chilled silence
I have loads and loads of laundry  washed
and unwashed   I did not learn how to wash
my own clothes until I was married
I usually have dishes in the sink 
I had tea parties with my dolls
I have art supplies  I used to draw Betty
and Veronica from the Archie Comics
I have a Bundt cake pan  
The first time I tried to bake a cake  the eggs
hardboiled themselves
inside the cake
I have a husband who cooks  We ate out a lot
I have books  
Books were my friends
I have help 
I felt alone  
I have love   I wanted love
I have fears   Fear grew inside me
I have imperfect vision   I wore huge glasses
I have responsibilities  credit cards
and no savings  
I never thought
to worry about money
I have routine   I enjoyed making lists
I am divorced and remarried  
I prayed
that my parents would stay together
I am an ex-piano player  
I hated practicing the piano
I wish I could still play
I have a busy mind   I had an active imagination
I have holes in my memory   I learned early
to fill in the blanks



Poets & Writers
Pink. Girl. Ink.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Watching

She wakes to the sound of the phone ringing,
though it is not early. 
She should be up.
Her mother on the other line
only
says, Turn on the TV
Something about her mother’s voice tells her
she should also wake her husband. 
Together, they observe the second plane fly
into the second tower. 
In real time.  The reporters.
had been reporting on the first. 
Had not
expected this.  Their shock and confusion
exposed as they simultaneously
attempt
to report and sort out what they
are seeing.  As the girl watches, something
both unfamiliar and frightening
begins
to stir; it takes up residence
within
her womb. 
She is young, expecting her first child
but now something else kicks
inside her, as new and strange as the small fetus.
Innocence souring. 
All her beliefs
about how life should be

were on that plane.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Unfinished

Saffron yellow threads of light shine through
the slats of the window blinds.
She wakes early,
dresses, treads outside to greet the glow. 
Last night’s  rain left mud so she is careful
where she steps.  Otherwise,
there’s not a sign of storm, the sky of sapphire,
cloudless.  An owl, unaware
the sun soon will rise, still flies low
overhead, whoo-ing like she’s the trespasser.

She stands at crossroad in her own backyard,
glances once where pale
purple crocuses will open even in the snow.
Uninterested in their optimism, her footfall
finds dry ground to navigate
toward the lone rosebush her husband
planted years ago….years before he died.
The roses are on their second bloom of year. 
China pink at tips of petals, white in middle,
and at center, a color like golden butter.

She lets a finger slide along one stem,
stops and gently, barely pricks herself
with thorn.
She does this every morning− repeats this
strange ritual, where she contemplates
beauty alongside pain, draws
drop of blood, and with her tongue, suspends
the flow, tasting stannic sweetness.

She thinks of all she didn’t say
when he was with her.
She grants that much was said, but cannot
escape the truth that death has summoned
words laid latent she always thought
she’d have time
to verbalize.
Now, these words may as well be buried
alongside his body, for, though she’s taken
each meditation she’s had since and had
also then; let them burn unsaid,
then spoke aloud
with fervor at his grave, then wrote
them down as unsent letter, prose in journal,
and even poem, without response,
they’re worthless−
seeds that will never effloresce.  

She’s not been angry but for this, and every
sentiment she’s left with is one of praise.
Though not a day went by without the words
I love you uttered, now even those seem thin
and wanting.  Wrought with not enough.
Had she never held what all was planted
deeper in, she’d offer self-forgiveness
but the knowledge that these existed
without voice now haunts her.  She had tried. 
Found herself tongue-tied by the sheer emotion
felt, unable
to admit the ache that came with ardor.
So, now, the tiny throb of pulse from prick
all she has to serve as a reminder that once
necessary words were born and budded
in the silent soil
of her mouth.  She’s left
to mourn their suicide.  His, an honest death,
her words a scandalous, shameful hanging,
choked in this vacant air. 

So, she forms prayers of repentance
with hands that tend
the garden that he left her, frets over every
flower’s life but plucks them when they’re
close to expiration, preserves them
in a press.  The grass
grows free but weeds are promptly pulled.

Perhaps she believes the blossoms to be
expression and that care
will be her
reparation,
her suffering unfinished.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Bones

Could our souls be so open
we could build a fire?  Burn the bones
of our past?  We could start again−
            anew.
Find our souls unburdened
by our quondam havoc.

Yes, baby, unearth your skeletons
and I’ll dig up mine− each
clandestine secret ever held,
every fragment of shame,
every shard of self-reproach.

It’s a midsummer eve; let’s let the sun
set on all that came before we met.
We’ll watch
the framework of the witches
wither in the gilded flames
until their cackling dies out. 
The heat
will scorch our fear. 
We’ll be reborn.
These bones have been our bane
and bondage.  They rise at night
to haunt and taunt, remind
us of our sins; their limbs rattling
as they boldly dance around our bed.

So, during
day, in safety, we’ll bring them
to the light.  We’ll make
a ring of rocks to place disparted
bodies in.  Pile high, bone by bone,
every soulless fuck, every thief
of worth.  Abjuring
in our conflagrant ceremony,
the selves we used to be and the selves
the bones once feigned to be. 
We’ll throw in skulls with cavernous
sockets, where eyes would be, still
as vacant as when flesh filled
face.  We’ll throw in cold and lifeless
frail fingers and inhuman hands
that once grasped for all that was not theirs. 
Their lying tongues have rotted,
their fraudulent hearts, decayed.
Ears that would not listen, now
do not exist and wills that would not stop
when asked, have been long put to rest.  

Now, just bones.
Once the bodies of men who wielded
their weapons like promise, women
who seduced the weak and watched
while their victims moaned and writhed
beneath their honeyed words of power,
now, unburied, we see, these bodies
are just bones.  Without garments of skin,
they are nothing but brittle stories.


The stars will come tonight to shine
their blessing and we’ll drop the match
and we will not mourn
as bones at last turn to ash.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Broken Pleas

Lord, hallowed be your name. Merciful / Lord
                                of reconciliation, hear my / poem as prayer; these broken
pleas in lines,
Lord; /                                        
                                                                             metronomic musings,
unmusical, / heavy with fear.  Lord, hear not my
                                       numb speech /
                                                                                                      but the token−
                                 the meaning.                                                            Take
away / the hindrance of self−
                                the sense of− and leave / with me a greater sense
of your presence; / Your spirit within revealing signs,
                                                                             sight / restored
                                                                       and light.  Within this rare shining, /
shine through
the gift of losing self to You. / This vital understanding
awakened / only in sheets of grace poured out and down /
                                and seen in strips of visibility, / so release me of all pride,
                                                         generate / humility and create connection /
                                                          so I might dine with you in communion /
drink from goblet
                                                                                              of signification /
                                                                                             my sins forgiven
by sipping tipped back / offering and again in harmony / I pray Thy kingdom
come, Thy will be done…. /
                                       Amen.

The Sunday Whirl
                                                                                                          

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Light Calling

She held
  her life in her own hands
as if it were an egg.  Strange, small,
     fragile.
A world within, unknown. 
Unexpectedly still intact, she had never seen the whole
of a shell. She imagined
the egg pulsed; felt not vibration
from this hope but believed
    birth
not death
would be discovered if she were careful.

Between her thumb
and middle finger, she held it up to the light
streaming through her bedroom window,
to see if she might see inside
but found the covering too thick.
Still, with her index finger, she twirled
this secret little world around;
an oval earth rotating on axis of her will.   
She cupped it gently
                   in her palm,
feeling its cold, smooth shape.
She placed it on a piece of paper, spun it like a bottle
in a kissing game;

removed her touch and noted shadow
and when tired of speculation,
                 she devised a plan for hatching.
She made a nest of blankets in a basket
and went to sleep to wait.  She dreamed
she was inside the egg, warm and safe and placid,
curled up tightly in a ball.  She felt this
while her eyes were closed but a sound
from faraway
woke her and her eyes without permission opened.
Her confinement produced no great unease
though her feet began to tingle.

She strained
        to hear the sound outside herself− a voice,
muffled,
       deep.
Conflicting thoughts entered her mind. 
She felt compelled to venture out and meet the call
but also wary.  There seemed only one way out−
that of fracture and this, if she were honest, she feared,
so holed up like a mole in hiding she fell back asleep. 
For years. And in the dream she dreamed she woke
unable to remember where she came from but knowing
who she was. 

And light was streaming
       through
the bedroom, spreading over her, so welcoming
the day, she stretched
        and was subtly aware
that as she did, small bits of shell fell softly off her,
though overall this was unremarkable.  Sitting
on the edge of her bed, she stilled a moment before rising,
and asked the voice that was in the light if she might
be able to see at last the large world outside herself,
and for the ability to release her will, offering herself
to the divine, deriving
power from something higher, demanding nothing
and asking for help only and finally, when she stood,
                                                            with eyes wide open,
she walked out toward the calling,
                                                             unafraid.

Margo Roby