Rowing on South River
The tundra swans hoot with travel plans,
the young flirt, murmuring
of nests on Alaskan shores.
The snow-cheeked ruddy ducks swarm
in anticipation, the buffleheads bob
one to the other. Exhaling
winter, I glide beside them,
the closest I can get to flying.
I rejoice with each particle
of water racing under my hull,
my oars, my wings, pulling
through the shifting tide. The sliding
seat breathes with me, each
fold, unfold of my legs
a song, answering
the cardinal who woke me at dawn.
Published: Maryland Writers Association Love poem anthology Life in Me Like Grass on Fire, 2011
The Grape Arbor
The lichen-laced arbor stands silent
as I untwist its vine
a weather-beaten muscle of wood
barren these last two years
after flourishing for sixty…when
daring each other, my sister and I
bit into the tart nubs of early grapes,
then as clusters ripened, we popped their purpleness
into our mouths, chewed the thick sweet skins,
cringed at the sour centers, spat the bumpy seeds.
When summer waned and nights cooled,
we picked until bushel baskets overflowed.
Separated from stems, crushed, heated,
poured into the large stained cheesecloth bag
to hang overnight above the stainless steel kettle,
the Concord grapes dripped
their midnight-purple juice.
Next morning, adding sugar and pectin,
Mom boiled the nectar, skimmed
the lavender-colored foam, poured
the fragrant liquid into hot half-pint jars,
layered each with melted paraffin to
seal them tight.
The vine crumbles in my hands.
Only a few wax-topped jars of jelly
remain in the cool dark of Mom’s cellar.
We break the seal, eat it carefully now,
its sweetness almost too much to bear.
Published: The Healing Muse: A Journal of Literary and Visual Arts.
Vol. 14, No. 1. Fall 2014.
Make Them Wonder
from staring eyes
into this world
Make them wonder
how one so scarred
can find such joy
with your one dim eye
the first red leaf
the last ripe tomato
Life, your life
Published: Wordgathering Dec 2009