Saturday, December 15, 2012

Sepia Days


Mid December, the golden lights. The ribbons, elves, anticipation
of joy.

Swatches of velvet, swishing crinoline, giggles.

The big guy is said to be packing treasures,
and we've all been good.

(In our way.)


But waking after she's gone,

waking as the sun hits the ridge,
waking as you know that first morning -
no more.
She's gone.

The wound drills through what once were the butterflies of hoping

into sorrows that pull our feet deep into blackened soil so far so cold
unable to get up.

Bronze filings by the farrier

in the chilled air
talking of work, children,
a horse stubborn but beloved.
The every-day that moves the minutes along.

Color was a gift they sent as an afterthought.

Cranberries, pine, cream in buckets.
Bleeding pyracantha, hollies, the reds and greens of this time of year.
Yet, brown is warmth, shades of earth 
in the basket they sent.
The umber, an unction. 

Ochre'd weeds in the faded watermelon garden.

Folded climbing once-red roses,
bowed.
Cool silence in the mountain air
as a bird cries
from the chill creek.

There is a red in sepia that cannot be defined.

Colors perhaps fairies sent
or the Natives left
before we came barreling in.

More carmine than cerise.

More thorn-punctured than rouge-swept.

Cold December'd air reaching the buried wound,

brushing, whispering what the
next morn will bring.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Green Shutters



Painting the green today, the luxuriance of hemlock,
pine – oh, the dying pine below, from
that harsh lightning of August.
Painting, thickness of green against log,
Far from the sweet white cottages of
Greenbrier
or Natchez.
But close enough to live on a ridge near those who fly
(the kestrel, Cooper’s, mocker)
who run
(the buck with fierce antlers)
who snoop
(the fox)
and guard fiercely from fighter jets and turkey buzzards and butterflies
(Great White). The green is peace here.

But the green of the door remembers other lovers without peace,
juleps near the river, in the hiding mountains,
grandmother tying the braid of a redheaded scamp in the cool of the porch
as we run to the creek, coming to a dead stop.
Shimmered, then scorched and torn.
The green of waiting for war, for summer storms, for the loss
of the one who doesn’t return.

The summer storm took green doors, shattered green shutters,
flattened Point Cadet where they had run after other wars,
where some talked in brogue of the far seas
and others in lilt of Asia,
they left to the new sea before dawn and came home after dark,
little ones jumping into hot waters, squealing on Sundays.
Shotgun house one and another,
many newly painted in greens, pinks and blues – but mostly whitewash.
Shrimp steam wafting before lunch, pusharatas and spring rolls a step apart.
Old windows reflecting oleanders.
Old men mending nets.

Then, gone.
The men, the windows, the oleanders, the squeals.

The green shutters.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

we saw Batman


It was ‘eighty-nine,
and you were six.  Your brother
and sister, off at friends’.
You couldn’t, ever really. Your oxygen stayed  that.
Your frailty slowed friend-visits
but not friend-making.

I wanna see Batman.
Can I have popcorn?
          Sure (with your one little tooth, so sore).

Perfect day for a movie.
A Wednesday, maybe.  Heated June air and the searing stole your warm huffs of
breath.
You knew your culture, better than most at any age.
Transformers, Smurfs, Nintendo, Matchbox cars.  Atari. Spidey.
Tom Cruise, Maverick, Harry and the Hendersons.
Kevin Bacon (and don’t even say it).

You and I didn’t care that people watched us as we rolled in the tank of oh-two. Their problem.
They (not all) didn’t see why we could laugh
or wait for the reward of the wide screen. They couldn’t see the origin story
of a boy who on days rare and soaring
could prevail
over all manner of evil invisible antecedent microscopic shadowy unpreventable
villains.
Your soft curved hands rubbed the velvet as I lifted you into the seat.
Cooling cycle helped you
breathe.

Thanks to Miss Ballard, you could spell ‘Batman’.
Thanks to Mrs. Haubert,
you and I had confidence.
The confidence of knowing for awhile you could walk
(she taught us that at two,
In the living room, as you crawled/hurting/smiling
and as I felt so alone,
that is, till she waltzed in with plain talk
and wide teeth, a former Sister now teacher of the forgotten she agonized,
 she abated,
she administered the elixir of affection
and regard).
The confidence of knowing for a short while you could be home,
you could go to stores,
you could go see Batman.
Thanks to your brother and sister and your friends and theirs,
you and I learned it was okay,
okay to play now.  Needles and white coats another day.
Okay to think about today, not tomorrow.
Okay to be a kid.

The missteps were many. We all tried, in our way.
The four-wheeler from your father.
Humanity from Vicky Lynn (when others didn’t come by).
Irony and chuckles from a big man who called you Bonehead (You’re a Bonehead! you’d retort.)
Your countenance was forgiveness, is
forgiveness in
your evening star.

Ruptured lives through the straits of surcease,
river rocks cold
dark depths
when you left. Like that,
into the star.

I failed you all on many days, before and after,
but on that day in
‘eighty-nine,
as the grand dark knight of promise loomed above us
and you screeched with joy
at the Joker Nicholson,
We were together,
we were happy,
you were not in pain
and breaths not stolen by the genome
bones not broken by body’s fate
breaths of yours, Andrew,
pealed and rippled across an afternoon
and  theater
we had all to ourselves.






Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The Bay Coronet




You were a gift,
they said. You had been loved and spoiled.
Your brothers sold. For much.
The farm gone.

Your eyes pooled in depths of sienna.
The thin lady left.

Now, we are.
The man nuzzles you
and tells stories of rougher horses
long past, those who bit and kicked,
were abandoned.

You weren't, and are not.

Your stifle imperfect.
Your coronet crooked.
Blaze askew.
Everlasting fast.
Some 
clever stubborn obstinate pertinacious affectionate good humor
for the woman who knows nothing of
horses
but swims past the russet
into the grassy depths of a soul seeking only
a friend.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Fly~away, 1

Elevens, originally.
Nine now.
No, the two are still,
yet don't know
(nor care).


That forty-two years should pass.
That you took me in
three beyond.
That our fathers are buried
within stepping stones of each other
in the
middle of this town.


Few have this,
I know.
We rarely squabble.
Ha, true.
Yet so different.


Words for each:
Earnest.
   Pensive.
      Contemplative.
          Keen.
      Canny.
   Harmonious.
Curious.
    Classic.
But me, lighter/
frivolous/
yet grateful.


So, we leave soon.
To the northern town
to adventures
recalled
before we see.


We had that, you know,
in the land after Kennedy,
in the days of Jude,
before lost children and brothers
and broken hearts
and stranded lovers
and fathers
gone.


Nights up long,
checking of boys 
over pizza at the Red Lion,
dreams of school
and airplanes
and the
world to be saved.
Did we save anything?
She nodded in the way that just we know:
Only the enchantment of elevens.


Hey.







Sunday, June 17, 2012

Brigantine whispers


Exquisite sun beyond bearing
dive into warm Sound waters/yielding sands below.
Fond shouts above/below, bathe in silence.

Laughter of boaters
Sundays after mass, our mass all the night before
as sun set
and bottles cracked
and faint voices floated from
the long dark brigantine beyond the pier.

After the fall of eve
a bull shark slips by beneath
Just passing through, worry only in the August heat.
The manta sleeps at dawn,
the pelicans settle in before the storm.

Taste the salt and
watch the shore storms rise.
Wait, my love,
to swim
'till morning enters.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Spur of the lark


Spectacularly stubborn.
Staying despite the Blue Ridge wind-jump
and curious moths.


Ink-stained grape-ade
for the one
not drinking.
Drink not.


Larkspur.
Delphinium.
The tall beauty in
shades 
that hurt the eyes.


Beswept potion.
Tempting to
none.
Alpine stablers
grew a-plenty,
the purple fencelines
where whispers told to witches,
another day.

Battle of the Blacksnake

Say you, who wins?


They're lovely, aren't they? he said from the warming soil.
Black back coiled only slightly.


Was that a wink?
Seven feet of sleek and he winks?



Sweetly seductive bubbles of raspberry
in the old French basket.
Pungent leaf lettuce
butter-melted in the southern sun.
Slither-son saucy knocks
and
slips in. 
No introduction needed,
he knows the ground in ways
we never will.  Dirt
is his respite.



Let's make a deal, he said.
You take the blue ones, I the red.
I'll get home faster,
as I see that you tumble along when you walk.


Toes are so inconvenient, aren't they?



Monday, May 28, 2012

28 May



He took my brother flying on Piedmont
from the Weyers Cave airport.
It was his father's farm before,
where
he and they   
grew up from 28 May
with dairy cows and fulsome pigs
chickens
and his mother's garden.
Tomatoes and marigolds and
any number of old
flowers
whose names
he knew.
He remembered.

Put up with 
my shenanigans
and
nonsense.

Stood as sentry
for my lost son,
with strawberries.

Bent by
others.
Bent by their
prejudice and ambition.
Their greed, their games.
(They don't know,
those left yet,
that I remember.
A pen is memory.)
Loved by others.
The cafeteria lady came to the
funeral.

Bent to his knees
when my brother
died.

Square shouldered and loyal
to our Mom.
Loving her to the last hour.
Indulging at a lake house,
with dance,
with endless flowers
and
a yellow cat.

Opened schools,
public meaning all not some.
Believed in the gerund,
To his last breath.
Believed in the comma and, well,
Math, to which in late years
I now bow.

Funny dog story with him, too,
involving a car and family trip –
but in truth he fed the dog while I played
and called me
when she got old and died.

A body that tricked him
with illness
from his first mountain
assignment to his sweet years
by the water.
Illness stealing time as he called his brother’s name
and giving time back to
us
occasionally.

The day before he left, he woke.
It was snowing.
We watched careless flakes from his room
and agreed how Mom
would live.
Agreeing once came hard to both of us.
(It involved assent by two.)
The snow quickened.
He chuckled. The nurse clucked above him.
He threw back a cold water 
and stopped the tired nurse.
Thank you, he said. That was good.
She looked surprised.

He took my little hand into his pained one.
One finger lost in childhood
to the McCormick Reaper.
It was the sum of his going and our staying.

So, he said, we’re square, right?

Ah, sir, we're square.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Cloak of Heliotrope


Delphinium in full stretch.
Columbine fading for the summer,
mums popping up too early.
It's my time now.
Before the next big storm.


I'm taller than
the squat gardener.


I'm taller than Great White.


They call me Heliotrope,
so purple,
more than violet.
Taste-color. Poof!
Popper up, string~bean,
creamy center
grape soda
May visitor.


Love me now.
On the next train.
Till next time.



Sunday, May 13, 2012

Three Grannies

Mom on far right, lithe,
in darling cotton jumper.


I'm jumping out of a patient Grandad's arms,
he who'd soon take me down on Brandon
to the fairy-tale house
for ice cream.


Many others here, whom I'll visit in other stories,
but food's the thing,
and three Grannies knew
their food:


fried oysters, fried pies, coconut cake, chess pie,
potato rolls, fried chicken, real green beans,
sweet tea, deviled eggs,
pickles,
plentiful,
covered neatly,
cooked in cool back kitchen
below
the sun porch.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Tomato Day, Part 1

Stretching early
cool sharp morn


tumbling over Biloxi bricks
toward prophesying sweet soil
Big Boy
Better Boy
Heirloom Boy
weeds
and
hungry girl


await.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

All up in our busy-ness



Cahas in clouds fades,
warmth lingering in the wakening pastures.
Shoo, move on, 
says Mockingbird. She whose sister
lost the match
of summer last with Great White.
(This spring's nest far
from foe.)
Mocker whose long-lost
cousin
dive-bombed us as we crawled out of the old trailer
1,000 miles south
after the terrible storm.
The cousin with babes in
a spare shrub
not taken
in the waters that left a Biloxi desert.


North at almost night,
high above No-Name Creek.
A-bed,
Bluebird bids the young.


Half-Angus stir, horse does her little whinny and nod
for carrots.


Storms come here, too, 
in other forms.
In blasts of bold, biting winter winds
off Five-Mile Mountain.
Sneaking over the elbow of
Cahas.
Back home to mountains,
missing
Biloxi
missing
shrimpers
missing
trawler
missing
those with hidden-song, sun-ned countenance.


Shhh. Night at Cahas.
Sleep now as they wake.
Do the spirits of the mountains
speak over long 
winds,
through mistrals,
to shimmers on grey brining waters
just beyond
the south-bound sands?
Do they share
our names?
Can they touch, gossip, murmur,
cloud-borne?

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Back to bed, springs

Cahas Mountain is slow to green in April,
looking like my brown-haired girl
tugging the satiny ancient
quilt
up to her twinkles.

Quilts my grandmothers made,
scraps not bought
but carefully stowed
in the blanket chest,
it too made, of
walnut
by one grandfather.

Quilts cool to the touch,
warming underneath,
piled with memories
of giggles,
tears,
Grandmother’s skin,
her loudly
proudly
sung old hymns.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Horse's Knees, after reading Points of the Horse


Stifle it’s called,
above the fetlock
and pastern.
The knees of Pleasure –
by now I call her Baby and there are no corners –
go forward and back,
and farrier says,
You must brush her this way,
In case she kicks.

Words of Old English
and Old French,
music to lover of
old words.
Coronet, croup, withers, brisket, ergot, forelock, bulb.

Bulb is best descriptive – softly
lifting her heel (no kicking),
softly nuzzling bent of nose,
looking into henna eyes looking back at me.
Took about a day
to fathom each other.
Took two weeks
for Baby to joke,
biting limb off  favored cherry tree,
carting off down the deep pasture.

Pastern is another word of
Old French.
Bern is, too, where the Woods materna left, horseback to ship. 
It’s quiet on the blue land
(except for Great White, who retrieved strength of limb).
It’s Baby, hock/cannon/muzzle/crest,
who has ministered
here.

When Pinks and Reds go together - Part 1


Later in April after fooling her
with the sunburn,
Pinks flared
contrarily at the
Reds’ cheeky bombast.   Ms. High Pink in lacey tilting stacked heels,
petticoat peek:
Espadrille or not, I run – do not stop me.

Sweet strawberry on lime lettuce by columbine
snow-threatened spring the patterns of
cotton Villagers patterned
first in heathers of ‘64, then
hot shades by ’68. Little flowers
for girls learning.  No clashing, not yet.
Soon.

Sun’s up over wind as the rush of cool
from the Floyd plateau
bends buds, clips corner’s tree.
Ms. High Pink shivers
prettily,
toes touch the lip of dew,
she blinks, and with a
quick inward turn of ankle
a sashay
in a stylish spring frock, whistling merrily
she tarries/
anticipates/
defies
The Rule to wear White.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Sparrow's cupcake


Grocer’s Sunday lot,
brown sparrow pecking furiously
a-quick
tattering in all seriousness
the slick pink icing
of
Easter child’s
cupcake.

Cars wheeling by
she pecks.
Days are short
winds leave the mountains.

you never know.

We’re young, see hills
Waved off beneath running shoes.
She was young
loved and beloved,
ambitiously toughened.  Fierce against foe.
But now the
winds quicken,
breath shortens.
Yet the sugary cream in April sun drips
Into a throat needing
treasure.



In columbine




Granddad ate strawberries with you in the hospital and has gone, too.

Your favorite movie came back with new actors.
Remember how we watched it in the cool green rooms?  You would laugh that ha-ha gravelly sound through sweet lips.
Ferris Bueller, ‘tho, can’t be changed.

I couldn’t write anything for many years
and recall your story differently than others do.
They remember your funny ways, things you did.

You smelled sweet.  Hair soft and thin, spring wind.
You were born in the spring and left at the cusp of summer.
Twenty-nine Saturday.

Good rises.
You drew them to you.
Smiling ladies at hospital and school.
The dear children of kindergarten.
Little sister, big brother.
A nun, before, who read with you.

Thankful to those who made you laugh – ‘bonehead’.
Friends who included you in the egg rolls.
Friends who cradled you.

Songs.  Precious nights only we had.

In the fresh columbine,
in the star your sister named.
We speak still.




Saturday, March 31, 2012

Friday, March 30, 2012

Tomorrow, a horse



And just yesterday,
Great-Granny Oakey Stump...perhaps in Floyd County?


The morrow's warm-blood
traveling from the lush lower Shenandoah Valley
to the hidden vales of 
Callaway.



Sunday, March 25, 2012

Big Orange, aka Great White


Trotting wildly in the rain
pudding of clay
tail-chasing
giant one,
just happy.


Waiting, unknowing,
for the new friend next week.
Why Dad built over there
before the storms
one capacious
corral. 


Paddocks on lush pasture.
Little Horse needing
a home. Trailered line of Blue Ridge,
south.


I'll stand for you,
says the Giant.
We'll hold this hill.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

occupy red-clay

Layers upon layers of mush and black dirt
to comfort us. Ready to
riot
after waiting.


they say she's an ol' libber, free of
spirit
freed from
days when Hot Pink
meant a chair down the hall and
shared coffees, watching
dutifully
as the powerful played.


they say
a Young Pink once thanked her ~
Pink reared in deeply southern water-soil
thanked her for kicking around a bit
the solemn Blue-ties
for standing with sisters many
so that now the breeze is easy,
any one can grow
and now
Pinks flock with Blues, Oranges, the Violet, the Umber
and soils are blended,
basting,
bountiful in loam.