Poem of the Week, by Davis McCombs

Freshwater Drum
– Davis McCombs

In certain parts of Kentucky’s cave country it is possible to drop a buoyant object in a sinkhole and then retrieve it, often hours later, when it floats up in a bluehole spring. A watermelon, for instance, after having traveled the length some underground stream, emerges chilled to a cool 54 degrees.

Once there was a boy; and once, the sun a tarnished silver plate
between the polebean vines, he led her under barbed wire
and down a ditch to a tar-black smear that gave back nothing
but their own hearts pumping. This is a song of gravel dust
and fescue, of balance won, and a metal culvert’s stagnant slubs.
This is a music of the heart’s solidity. He showed her how
to thump the rind, their faces shadowed on its lightning stripes.
He showed her how a shirt, untucked, can make a basket
for lugging a burden down a red clay wash. Sixty years, the sun
still askew above the hill, and now she carries only the song,
but the boy is inside it, and the melon, too, and when she follows
its sequence of familiar notes along that weedless rut
she finds two bicycles propped at the head of a path angling
down mud and hoof prints to a knob of water blossoming
and blossoming, she finds the white perch drumming its tendons
by the undercut silt bank, finds the stream’s clear discharge,
how it nudged the river’s muddle, and they waited, the cold interior
of that music she would not yet hum nor carry, coming numbly
among facets. She follows the song where it leads: past
the striped and oblate orb that wavered into focus there
below the ledge, over the black seeds in a half-moon on the sand,
and to the grave in which, come that winter, the boy would lie.

​For more information on​
​ Davis McCombs, please click here: http://www.poetryfoundation.org/bio/davis-mccombs​


My blog: alisonmcghee.com/blog

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Poem of the Week, by Suzanne Cleary

Anyways
– Suzanne Cleary (for David)

Anyone born anywhere near
my home town says it this way,
with an s on the end:
“The lake is cold but I swim in it anyways,”
“Kielbasa gives me heartburn but I eat it anyways,”
“(She/he) treats me bad, but I love (her/him) anyways.”
Even after we have left that place
and long settled elsewhere, this
is how we say it, plural.
I never once, not once, thought twice about it
until my husband, a man from far away,
leaned toward me, one day during our courtship,
his grey-green eyes, which always sparkle,
doubly sparkling over our candle-lit meal.
“Anyway,” he said. And when he saw
that I didn’t understand, he repeated the word:
“Anyway. Way, not ways.”
Corner of napkin to corner of lip, he waited.
I kept him waiting. I knew he was right,
but I kept him waiting anyways,
in league, still, with me and mine:
Slovaks homesick for the Old Country their whole lives
who dug gardens anyways,
and deep, hard-water wells.
I looked into his eyes, their smoky constellations,
and then I told him. It is anyways, plural,
because the word must be large enough
to hold all of our reasons. Anyways is our way
of saying there is more than one reason,
and there is that which is beyond reason,
that which cannot be said.
A man dies and his widow keeps his shirts.
They are big but she wears them anyways.
The shoemaker loses his life savings in the Great Depression
but gets out of bed, every day, anyways.
We are shy, my people, not given to storytelling.
We end our stories too soon, trailing off “Anyways….”
The carpenter sighs, “I didn’t need that finger anyways.”
The beauty school student sighs, “It’ll grow back anyways.”
Our faith is weak, but we go to church anyways.
The priest at St. Cyril’s says God loves us. We hear what isn’t said.
This is what he must know about me, this man, my love.
My people live in the third rainiest city in the country,
but we pack our picnic baskets as the sky darkens.
We fall in love knowing it may not last, but we fall.
This is how we know home:
someone who will look into our eyes
and say what could ruin everything, but say it,
regardless.

 

For more information on Suzanne Cleary, please click here: http://www.suzanneclearypoet.com/

Poem of the Week, by William Stafford

When I Met My Muse, by William Stafford
I glanced at her and took my glasses
off–they were still singing. They buzzed
like a locust on the coffee table and then
ceased. Her voice belled forth, and the
sunlight bent. I felt the ceiling arch, and
knew that nails up there took a new grip
on whatever they touched. “I am your own
way of looking at things,” she said. “When
you allow me to live with you, every
glance at the world around you will be
a sort of salvation.” And I took her hand.

​For more information on William Stafford, please click here: http://www.poetryfoundation.org/bio/william-e-stafford​


My blog: alisonmcghee.com/blog

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Poem of the Week, by Dorianne Laux

Needle and Thread
– Dorianne Laux

It was the sixties, and embroidery was back in,
and if you had jeans torn at the knee, an old
denim jacket, a plain white shirt or a cloth
handbag, I might ask you what you liked
then spend hours alone in my room
with your favorite colors, woven threads
luxurious as a young girl’s hair, practicing
the chain stitch, cross stitch, running stitch,
satin stitch across your ripped skirt until
flowers and suns unfurled, a blustery field
of violet iris, a blind yellow meadow or a deep ravine
that scrolled down your back or pants seam,
red ferns blushing your blouse above
a clavicle, daisy chains circling your cuffs.
I’d return your garment on a day you had almost
forgotten about it, baggy T-shirt, ragged shorts,
laid across my arms so the crewel work
shimmered, patchwork of hearts, patina
of wings, like the riven marble draped
beneath Christ’s Pieta, folds catching the light,
offering it up as a sacrifice, asking nothing in return,
though you bowed your head over it and touched it
with your whorled fingertips, the veined leaf
or cresting wave, frothed, feathered, spiders’ webs
and fleur-de-lis, peace signs and scepters and stars,
then looked up into my face like an alien being, you
who I hardly knew.

​For more information on Dorianne Laux, please click here: http://doriannelaux.com/​


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