you must tuck the fallen leaf into the left cup
of your bra
to record it on your heart.
June Marsh Jive
Bur-reed spike blossom jitterbug
a call-and-response two-step.
Or four-step. Why not?
Pollen stagger and drift,
Garters uncoiled slither
Mojo. Juice. Magnetism.
On the low down. Bluet duet,
marsh wren rattle, willow
wag and waltz, pin-tail tingle.
It’s in the air. Le Jazz Hot.
My mother and I are the same
height, have the same measurements,
same build. I weigh 30 pounds
more. Osteoporosis is hollowing
her bones, like some god preparing
her for flight. Her memory
is hollowing too, leaving a thin
shell of fear over dusty space. When
my mother dies I will come
out of the closet. We both wait,
crouched and wings up as flight
nears. Still, may she not lift off
in the middle of some night
when I am visiting her, shifting
to find a comfortable position on
her damn hide-a-bed. Freedom
shouldn’t feel that guilty.
(Published in Poetry Motel, 2003)
When Grandma stopped going
to church, then stopped
making sense altogether, we
called her eccentric
When my mother drove
until lost in the state she loved,
we called her mixed up.
I wonder what they are
calling me. . .
Sexy, I hope.
I wade knee deep in spring’s watery soup:
loop of duckweed root, loose muck, turtles
sunning on uncertain terrain of muskrat path,
canary grass, mounds of tussock sedge.
Boot toe catches an edge of surprise –
the sudden whinny of wading birds
or hydroplaning ducks. It is work to stay
upright, distracted as I am. I grab one stem
of dogwood by one hand, just a finger
and thumb – one slender wand
sleeved with tender tongues of leaves.
There is no salvation here, no staunch staff
to take my weight; simply a red-barked
branch as centering point that’s worked so far.
The Climate’s Changed Already
I sit on the edge of the bed
wearing as little as possible.
Sometimes even the thought
of movement starts the sweat.
I’m listening to bird bustling
through the double pane
window. Adenoidal robins
and busy body house sparrows
penetrate air that would
be easier to inhale if I had
a coal shovel – breathe one
briquette at a time. After five
days of rain the world is
fifteen shades of green
with a few of those silly
red-leaved flowering crabs
thrown in to show how
humans must fool with things.
Just now I’ll sit and watch
the small locust sprout
lift and twist in air as heavy
as Wagner. Then maybe
I’ll get another cup of tea,
look for something to wear.
Slowly. Very slowly.