Elizabeth Bodien – Violet Edges
Vida Chu – The Last Family Portrait
Philip Holmes – Fractions from the still
Bruce W. Niedt – Postcard to the Ex
Hayden Saunier – The View from Assisted Living
John Smith – Red Moon
Janice Wilson Stridick – Portrait
Please see our Poets tab for home pages of poets, where available.
What I did not say
was how lovely you looked,
haunting, gazing out the car window.
Your doleful look, I have seen it before.
Who can know the fathoms of grief,
your face flushed gold in late afternoon sun.
It was that tinge, violet at edges,
that drew me in.
As I waved to you,
I waved to myself
saying goodbye to some story of mine
I could barely remember.
Two women, bonded and parting—
you with your sad life yet to walk through,
me writing of melancholy as if by so doing
I could stay its hand.
On the steps of Stanford campus
the photographer says Smile
To him we are just another young couple with three small children
My daughter with pigtails
pointing skyward like firecrackers
laughs and totters toward the camera
while her brothers pull
her back by her dress
Thankful that I still have hair on my head
I curl my lips, watch my wife squeeze out a brave smile
I wonder who will teach
my boys to shoot baskets
who will walk
my little girl down the aisle
I wish the piano hanging over
my head would drop
dying is such hard work
The camera clicks
Got you, the photographer says
Beads form on the cooled glass and gather:
tracks leading out, words spoken or not,
listened for breathlessly, cracking apart:
an embrace that led here but no further.
A circle of gifts, a walk before night,
gestures rehearsed and sheltered by darkness,
passing away leaving scarcely a trace,
here at the table, under the light.
I’m one to make lists, who wants to know
where we’re headed, when it’s only the faults
and absences, collisions of chance
that brought us this far, and might let us go.
What’s not fixed will vanish in bright air;
what didn’t happen is also what we are.
There’s a bear in the back yard
and piranhas in the kitchen sink.
The kids are dressing like clowns
and the bank took back the TV.
The car lost a wheel and a door.
Someone painted our windows black.
Your favorite chair caught fire,
and last night during the storm,
a huge tree limb crashed
through the bedroom ceiling
and onto your side of the bed.
Wish you were here.
Windows here face west. Sunrise
first colors the top of a huge construction crane
where the new hospital slowly
climbs its own stone steps.
The crane is like nothing else in the landscape.
A train trestle tipped on end
burning a blaze orange light,
light now touching down on the maple¹s scarlet crown
making two flames.
Then, everywhere, day.
The river¹s a bright streak of sky on the earth.
Last lit, it will be first
to go dark tonight when light
shines in our eyes, some days
magenta, some days poured gold.
Light slides up our faces,
our brows, what¹s left of our hair,
burns our eyes as it burns up
the back side of maple and crane.
Some days, who knows why,
the light simply goes out and it¹s night.
When we meet at the river under a red moon,
together again, you an elderly woman and I
long since dead, we will dance on the green bridge
above dark water like we did when you were the child
I shook from bed and bundled, the child who said,
The moon must be going out tonight; she’s putting on
her red dress, as the white sphere slipped into
Earth’s umbra. When we meet at the river, snow
on both shores, my forest and your city aglow,
what passes through floor-lit trees or neon streets
will not matter anymore. When we meet under
a red moon again, as it says in the old text,
the sky will roll up its scroll and stars fall like figs.
Dress, then, like the moon, my dear, wear red,
and we will dance in the fiery eclipse on a green bridge
between separate shores for the last time once more.
Winter Solstice 2010
in Mother’s eyes, I could not be signed.
She was not done.
At first, I was too loud,
Then I became too bookish,
Then I was too secretive,
too hard to read.
likely to derail.
Then I moved west,
too far away
to know or hug or touch.
But, drawn back, I returned
to mine our muse
conduct the reconstruction.
She painted through chemo,
initialed, at last, my portrait
as I opened a chapter
about her, preparing to live