Stroll

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Let us take a walk through a particular woods on Long Island in New York. I will show it to you and then you will understand why a set of trees and a narrow stream could mean this much to me. I met my husband on Long Island and had my first child there. I don’t remember anymore what town these woods were in, but  I used to go there often, and usually alone. But even when by myself, I did not find it lonely there. It held that kind of peaceful solitude that you can really embrace.

As you step into the woods, about twenty paces, there is a small stream and a little bridge going over it. You can sit on the bridge and hang your feet over. I sat here countless times. Walking further in, the place is green, lush and cool with many leafy trees and evergreens. The smells are great and the ground is damp, so you can smell that as well. If you stand very still there in the Autumn, you can hear leaves falling from various distances away. My favourite clearing you’ll see as we come to it, is surrounded by several large trees with red leaves, and when they fall, they form a carpet beneath of red and pink.

How sweet it would be to sit in this clearing once more with the leaves falling around me and onto my head, shoulders and lap. When I was here I was in love, and he was in love with me. I remember how that felt to be someone’s whole world. And the day they put my newborn daughter into my arms, I thought I could take on the world myself. I want to feel that again, that feeling of red and pink, and explosions going off overhead, and my head so full of poetry that I thought it would be blown clear off. I’d like to be in love (here) again.

should spring be always
or summer arrive at thought
or autumn’s riches

rain requires poets answer
typically I reply
often silent until
I have something to say
then you can’t shut me up
about who it is
that can’t stop crying
from the sky

Spring Picnic

They sat together and talked while the clouds couldn’t decide whether to be dark or white, changing and dancing in their indecision of midday. She would say, ‘I think it will rain,’ and look for her umbrella in the bag though she knew damn well she did not pack it. He would lean back and watch her shoulders move with her emotions, straight and soldier’d when content, shaking, when she laughed at his jokes,  then later, sagging under the knowledge of what was taking place. The day was heavy for her, but not to him, because she had not told him in advance. It was a picnic. It was sandwiches cut into rooftops with potato chips and red grapes in zip-lock baggies. It was a checkered tablecloth on the grass, still damp with May when one leaned with an elbow, feeling the earth depress.

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asylum

still looking for safety
somewhere to
sleep all night
and wake without fear
inside stalwart walls
no one can penetrate

first warm days of Spring
make me nostalgic
remembering good and bad
and horrible, blended
with lies and poured into
something tall and frosty

we drank coffee for water
those days
old plumbing I never trusted
rust colored fount at day break
I let it run and hummed
breaking eggs into a hot pan

I sorted the tangled
ate what was offered
seeking asylum
with the girl I used to be
thumbing my nose
at the world

tender dreams
and sick fantasies
kept him alive
winters cold enough
to freeze off toes
dark enough to hide
what he did not know

Too soon

Scene from 1983:

Me: I don’t think I’ll live to be 25.
Mom: Don’t say that.

7 a.m.  on a Sunday morning 1997:
Dad on phone: She’s gone.
Me: It’s too soon.

It was you, it was you
gone too soon
so cliché
pardon me if I don’t
come up with
golden lines
at times like this

I would say you were
ripped from us
but it was more like
a fade-to-black
with screaming
your face melting
into the wallpaper

Don’t go yet
it was supposed to be me
hanging out with Peter and Paul
you, oh you
were supposed to earn
your old age in your rooms
in your house
beneath the pines

Raining for days

Are we fools
The rain falls and we avoid it
afraid to shine in the middle
of puddles afraid to be struck
soaking clean in April
still trying to get it up
that umbrella
we are better off without

Are we off our heads
when we walk in opposite directions
despite the signs in front of us
mile after mile
not to mention the one
on which I smacked my head
and all those words
you knitted together through the winter

Are we finished
the rain falls over us
where I tied you to the park bench
a gift so that just once
you could see inside my head
while I dance in the rain
tell me, when I untie your wrists
and your ankles, will you run

or will you be dancing with me
when the morning comes

The weaver speaks with his hands

This idyllic day should conjure up words like
daydream, breeze, lovely, carefree, ripe, and luxurious
but I move through my day with some agitation. I do
as I always do, my responsibilities, with pauses
for reverie. But my moments of thought are honeycomb’d

with words like careful, caution, reticence, and thief
and others such as grief, broken, torn and flambéed;
our days so carefree in the forest
as we reach the perimeter – bathed in sunlight-
each fault shown up, each danger splashed with crimson.

Hands that create and form and weave delicate strands
could be trusted, might be counted on
to put together a story that I could live with
my fancies coming to life with holidays and ruffled dresses-
childhood realities I knew existed – but not for me.

Weave me a tale of red leaves and sunshine
and an autumn day, most fair, but I know
it is April, not October. The monsters pounding
on the bolted doors, the bear paws clawing
at the eaves – they will find a way in-

Spring cleaning

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For years I felt superstitious about Spring
inheriting this little quirk
due to the early deaths of Grandma, Granddad, and Mother
and her grandmother
on dates of the third thrice, then the thirteenth

Spring on its own swept away such fears, this year
with green, with growth, and with hope
looking upward through apple blossoms
at clouds and endless blue skies
watching nature pair off in love

and despite my dark thoughts
I may not die on the third

but I will shave my legs on the second
just in case

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

I dislike epilogues, especially when they are longer than the poem, but I felt like sharing this, to explain. Years ago my grandmother’s mom died on December 3rd, and my grandpa died on March 3rd 7 years later. After that she became very morbid and superstitious, feeling dread the 3rd of every month. When she died on April 3rd seven years later it really got to me and I inherited that superstitious nature on the 3rd of each month, and really dreading the spring. My mother passed away on April 13 several years ago, and that laid me outright.

Last year, some things I thought would never improve started to get better in my life and I found some new hope. I owe it to God because I would never have climbed out of that deep pit on my own. Spring became so beautiful and I just couldn’t stop taking pictures. I felt real joy, even handling my mom’s death anniversary in a ‘normal’ way, whatever normal is. I used to kind of disappear on that day.

I love that spring has come back to me. Autumn is beautiful and will always be my favourite season, but despite the beauty it is a season when things die, and I have started to appreciate life, which spring illustrates in countless ways. We’ve only been into spring 5 days, and it’s cold here, but I am excited as the season is starting again. I feel hope. That is the cause for adding humour to the last part of the poem. It seems that every time we pull out of a bad time, humour is part of the healing. So I cling to it. Smiling, laughing, hopeful thoughts. Thank you for listening.

-Rose