INSIDE THIS ISSUE:
Michael D. Long
Karyn M. Wolven
When I walked to the pier they thought
I was off to check for crabs,
bail the half-swamped boat.
Both tasks needed doing
No crabs in the trap, no bait left,
but I scooped twenty-three pails
of rain from the heaving hull
while she banged the dock.
What I was going for, in truth,
was to find a poem for you
hoped a poem would find me
open as the pail or boat
or the lilies I passed,
enter me like a lover,
leave me fertile with verse.
All I found were these words.
No fabled falcon
trained to wrists
of prince or feudal lord.
This rough bird builds
a scraggly next of sticks
atop a piling, dead tree,
channel marker swirled
by tides and prey
to floods and hurricanes.
His cry is but a tenor peep
too feeble surely to spur fear
in fish or beast.
Yet when he soars,
rides the waves of sky,
his shadow knifes the sea,
when he plummets
through his talons spear their prize,
and he bears it home.
He still wears his late father's shoes;
nine times I've had them resoled.
He handed me down the ivory silk
blouse his old mistress forgot.
I cherish my dead father's shirts
and those of previous lovers,
shop only at thrifts; what secrets hide
in the folds of abandoned clothes,
what streets did these purple shoes walk?
Willy-nilly we cling to more
than mere symbols of unsevered pasts.
And I always wanted a blouse of ivory silk.
WHY I WASHED THE CLOTH
WHICH WAS NOT EVEN DIRTY
The tablecloth's alive with tiny ants
like three strung flecks of pepper on six legs.
The pattern's blue-and-brown batik so they
don't show till five invade my laptop. Ants
are not true bugs so I can't phone the whiz
who de-bugs out computers. I won't call
exterminators with their poison sprays.
Come winter, sometimes insects disappear.
Now spring: ants scan my poems, replace my words,
recalculate my thoughts, write their own books.
I RUN MY FINGERS OVER A BOWL
Imperfectly scrubbed by my lover,
I rewash it, chip dried pasta flecks
with bitten nails.
Unlike my saintly stepmother
(impeccable plates, house and life),
most of us are flawed.
When he strokes my skin, I only hope
his fingertips are insensitive
while they slide over my freckles,
Smooth wrinkles, ignore scars
left on my heart by earlier, less
Elisavietta Ritchie, Washington, D. C.