Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Yardwork and Peaceful, Ease

Soon to plant the bleeding heart: a throwback to my childhood and Evanston, Wyoming where it was the one constant flower to bloom each year. We lived on the industrial side of town, owned a motel, bar, liquor store and cafe. Our front yard was a big old wagon that sat under a crab apple tree. Needless to say, there was not much gardening in our lives, but there was the Bear River running through a kind of back yard that had too, the remnants of an old drive-in and the ticketbox that I made into my playhouse and there was in front of our "lobby" home, a crab apple and in our side year: the bleeding heart. I loved it for its crazy shape and of course, its name. Of course my first home had to have one too and so it will, very soon. I also found some white Peruvian daffodils--very spidery and curly in their petals. I can't wait to see them in bloom.

Tonight we refinish the bathtub, hang our gorgeous new shower curtain (hummingbirds, Queen Anne's Lace, dandelions!) and tomorrow we paint it in that tin-dreamy shade of jade and mint that I found in this new line of paints.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Chocolate Almond-Chrysanthemum Cake

with mocha filling and chocolate-almond filling and deep Hershey's cocoa. A tray full of pansies: saffron and purple, peach and deep plum, bright sunny yellow and icy lilac, the yellow finches, the bluebirds, the colors as seen through some embroidered sheers and a big plan for a big celebration. Things are excellent and soon the parents arrive! I cannot wait.

Now off to buy white violets and back to Spring Break--but not before I pass out some pretty.

The Listening of Plants

On the buffet where she kept her celadon dishes,
Mother placed a vase of pussy willows
hurried out of their branches.

The buds were cat toes walking up a mottled branch,
miniature koalas hanging on their eucalyptus
in a scattered line.

I snapped one off the twig and rolled the bud
on the flats of my thumb and finger,
its smoky gray coat how I imagined koala fur might feel.

I rubbed the willow bud along the bone of my jaw
wanting to know how a plant can wear animal skin.
It was too small, like touching nothing.

I splayed my hand along its curves,
felt the hairs rise in the divot of my palm,
I would have needed a sweater of willow to be satisfied.

Instead I slipped it into my ear. How did I know
a pussy willow was the right shape for the foyer of my ear,
long hall leading to the eardrum and the bones behind?

The bud rested there and I listened,
wanting to hear what it had to say
which was quiet, which was the muted listening of plants.

When I asked Mother to extract a pussy willow
from my ear, I couldn't explain its presence
how I listened and heard its secret.

Copyright © 2011 Laura Shovan All rights reserved
from Mountain, Log, Salt, and Stone
CityLit Press
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

On Such a Morning

with coffee and peanut butter toast and 800 mg. of ibuprophen, what a breakfast.
So much going on, so, so much. Soon my parents visit (huzzah to the skies!) M & I are scrambling to balance some serious plans, including travel and well, other, and prepping the guest room, the sun room and deck,hanging curtains (you just wait!) with painting (there is a disturbing firework chrysanthemum of velvet red on the bathroom wall where I wanted to get a sense of the color and then just stopped.) I have now the most wonderful kitchen bench--beyond my wishes for it--gorgeous wood, a carving at the back and a storage bench underneath! All those wonderful aprons and kitchen extra sillinesses will have a home. I attempted to re-embargo my book (Teatime) with UC and found that I have little time to publish it and only one additional year of embargo available. This means editing poems and the book as a whole. I meant to attend Colerain for that, but the one and only Stevarino will be in town that very same weekend. Worth it.

And April awaits with all of its poetic responsibility. Chicky and I are writing food poems and I am trying to set students up to do the balloon launch and guerella poetry events all month. I would like the campus abloom with verse, if not all of Columbus. Anyway, lots of travel and well, interesting events up ahead. I am busy, a little freaked-out but generally so happy.

Found the site to register by hot pink bus found back in the days of Victorian Village. It is very much my kind of project and I feel happy again to have found that little playing card sized block of fucshia and bus-yellow wood.

I have excised a lot of overvigilance from my life and this finding of this hidden-thing and the artful and civic connections it brings, remind me that some sorts of watching-closely are still good.

Instructions for Vigilant Girls

Be the sleeping sister who sees no one.
Stay stuck in. Later, hand over

a list of suspects: the handyman,
the bachelor neighbor, the uncle

who was never really your uncle.
When there are conversations,

take notes in your secret diary:
She said she saw him look at things.

Wear the key in your hair. No one
will search there. Speak on behalf

of the soon-to-be-missing, but if they play
in the woods near your home, do not

trail them to an encounter with the man
in the conversion van who gently insists

you hunt for his puppy and means you
no harm through his pleated pockets filled

with stars and balloons, real pieces
of the moon. Resist. Try not to lick anything.

Bring your gum eraser and be invisible
as a grackle to the well-trained watcher

who follows your movements
but never reports them until

you are found veiled in a strip mall basement,
throat unfurling with threats and questions.

Erika Meitner

Monday, March 14, 2011

by Jorie Graham

Over a dock railing, I watch the minnows, thousands, swirl
themselves, each a minuscule muscle, but also, without the
way to create current, making of their unison (turning, re-
entering and exiting their own unison in unison) making of themselves a
visual current, one that cannot freight or sway by
minutest fractions the water's downdrafts and upswirls, the
dockside cycles of finally-arriving boat-wakes, there where
they hit deeper resistance, water that seems to burst into
itself (it has those layers) a real current though mostly
invisible sending into the visible (minnows) arrowing
motion that forces change--
this is freedom. This is the force of faith. Nobody gets
what they want. Never again are you the same. The longing
is to be pure. What you get is to be changed. More and more by
each glistening minute, through which infinity threads itself,
also oblivion, of course, the aftershocks of something
at sea. Here, hands full of sand, letting it sift through
in the wind, I look in and say take this, this is
what I have saved, take this, hurry. And if I listen
now? Listen, I was not saying anything. It was only
something I did. I could not choose words. I am free to go.
I cannot of course come back. Not to this. Never.
It is a ghost posed on my lips. Here: never.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Blah Skies

I've no real right to feel weary, the day has been gorgeous but I do. Someone rather close to me was attacked yesterday and is struggling and I feel a sense of her pain and violation and I feel helpless.

M and I have been very cabin-fever-grouchy and that hasn't helped the painting or hanging of drapes or feeling good about all that is so good around us.

So I bring you loveliness in the shape of Nickole Brown and her poem that I just re-read and newly-adored:

" How to Become a Dyke, Step Three, Birds"

A book of birds. A story in birds. Each breath
a bird, each dream slipped from your ear
to your pillow out the window a song:
cardinals laughing at you—birdie birdie birdie—
on a lonely Valentines, then robins swarming
the last bits of red another February day,
so many of them on the holly tree the branches
tick with their picking and you stop
the car. But you are so cold, you have to get to the store,
and in the florescent buzz of the freezer aisle, you swear
you hear a flock of larks is called an exaltation,
but think no, that’s too pretty, that can’t be
right. Buy your frozen pizza and peas and try to
remember warmer days:
the surf shop with the parrot, big and green with a beak
full of fingers, your hair a dread of salt and seaweed
so you would run home to your grandmother’s
to wash the sand from your scalp. In the shower,
on the sill of the window made to crank tightly closed
to hurricanes, that porcelain bluebird—
all those years, she swore she’d die and come back
red-breasted, blue-winged, and singing,
but when the time came, it was only morphine
talking: white beasts stalking the hospital room,
with wings long as a Cadillac and tail feathers flowing like new
curtains, she said, and faces, they’ve got faces bright and sharp as a fox.
There is nothing you can do. The reincarnation you used to believe in
is a drag queen named Phoenix on Saturday nights at the bar
where a girl leans in to you with both thumbs cowboy hooked
to the pockets of her jeans, nothing more.
When she asks for your number, you make for the door.
There is nothing you can do and so you travel
to Brooklyn where birds sing louder, competing
against sirens and cabs and ice cream trucks.
Try to find a woman there who makes you forget
the woman before who took you to a red barn
to see a pony, the barn swallows
knifing the air between rafters. You will leave her,
you always leave, your heart a young hummingbird
who has learned that hummingbirds do not land
when they suckle the flower—only fledglings
claw the red plastic feeder. Say, I just can’t,
say it, then leave, say it,
then make your way to the headstone
of your grandmother. Her ashes are not
there, but her name is, and because you still believe
in some words, it is enough. You are there to seek
permission. Cool your face against the granite and ask
is what I have become okay?
After, feed the cemetery swans dandelion greens
and think their beauty is not unlike the hissing
swan of Lake Bled, the tidal swan of Galway,
all water the same drowning, no matter how far you go.
When you have the courage, take another woman
to your bed but wake on the porch
to a cathedral of sunrise singing, the boards splintered
hard to your back. Walk with her
to the park where a yellow bird follows alongside
in a sine cosine rollercoaster of flight.
Argue with her—it’s not possible, a canary
in Kentucky, but think why not?
What’s lovely in this world is no more impossible than what’s not—
when you were married to a man, three sparrows trapped themselves
in that porch light and cooked against the glass; later that first summer
as a wife, a mother jay—again, say it—trapped
in the garden pond, your face reflected in that fishshit water
dashed bright with blue feathers and golden coy.
You never did grow old enough with him
for the pink plastic flamingos to decorate the front yard,
never did see that hokey sign—Lordie, Lordie,
look who’s forty!—and it makes you cry like a peacock and shred
your flesh in strips to the black tower beaks—Take it, dear raven. Take it,
clacking black crow. When there is no meat left, throw
strands of hair and bits of cheap bread to a fast-food sparrow,
eat for years on the bland sorrow of grease and plastic and frustrated men
until you travel to a lilac-eyed cockatoo
that beats her head against your collarbone
to rush up a serving of hot fruit and seed, a vomit offering
meant for another with a beak to guzzle it
back down. You say, I’m sorry, but I think your bird
is sick, but the woman who owns her
simply cleans off your shirt, puts her pet softly back
in the cage. Nah, honey, that’s her way of saying
she loves you, she says. Can’t you tell love from sickness?
Go further north—there you’ll find a five-note song from one side
of the mountain, calling lonely for days before another finally answers.
You’ll never see that bird and never learn its name,
but it does not matter. When you hear it, a woman
will be waiting. Pack your things and come back home