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Grey Sparrow Journal

Issue 30, July 31, 2017
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Headlands

 

 

 

Reeds and bayberry clumps, and the cries of

   sea lions on the marooned island, fiddler crabs in the black

 

mudflats of no beginning or end, oh we could have walked

  into the shoals and out a hundred times, rich in entropy and chaos

 

for the dunes were like marriage, it mirrored our minds,

   how we always recover to find sharp bits of tomorrow

 

dirt-faced and hopeful, for love is like that, long love

   the larger view of it, a shoreline of brightness

 

then the feelings of drowning, you glimmer in my bones

    buoying me like eelgrass, agitating me like waxwings,

 

the evergreen fragrance in the deciduous light; husband,

       I’ve known for so long, you who mark my trails,

 

you of my allegiance, I praise you in your ignorance, I praise you

      for your love of the world, in your nakedness

 

in our house we built of planked cedar, how tender you are

       like the ghost gulls,  the whales that rise from the desert of water,

 

 your shoulders unfathomable I follow, pale cloud after blue sky

    how I hope I die before you for I could not push your coffin

 

now if I tried, there is too much to confess, too many trespasses,

    so I say take me here where nature bursts in the dead of winter,

 

in the depth and dumbness breaking among us, husband who always

       catches me crouching then upright in the moth of his eye.

 

                                                                               -Leonore Wilson

 

 

 

 Doreen

 

Slack of tongue I was

Nearly small as a sedge-warbler

When the young girl’s body

Was laid flat as a blade.

 

Her death still haunts this vestal daughter

Who recalls the river’s long curve,

Shrunken dusk of nightfall

When the farmer looking for lost calves

 

Discovered her out in the webbed marsh

Where toadstools and stumps

Repeated themselves that weary January

And she was my age, five

 

Exactly, and I didn’t know my destiny

Would be to save women, to speak

Up about the coldness of love

To clean out its rust.

 

I knew the hammered anvil’s ring,

The grunts, the slam and flick

Of a man who beat iron out,

My father, a brute with globe shoulders

 

Who could make my mother shudder.

I mapped his furrows exactly

Riding him piggyback,

Dipping, rising to the plough,

 

Closing one eye tight to follow the map,

The broad shadow round the farm,

The slug and thump for hours

Until our hanged dry clothes were splattered.

 

The girl still rests in me like hot water,

A fifty-year lid unfitted to a pot.

The memory blisters for I recall how they

Fished her from the mud and laid her in the pantry.

 

There was room for me at the schoolhouse then,

But my mother kept me in, coloring in the kitchen,

Afraid of the murderer, who he was;

Where only pitch knows mystery’s stigmata.

 

                                                  -Leonore Wilson

 

 

 

California Sister

 

 

 

I’ve mistaken you for monarchs

over the cressets of plants,

the fence posts, the cattle guards,

whispering onward from one freckled flower

to the next, your empyrean

wings copper-hammered…

oh the sound of daydreams you make

like the frozen pipe’s first gulping;

my butterfly, flag, infant-

hand and smaller still,

rippling eye of eros

in spring, tell me where will you

go when the forests are gone,

when the cold ambulance of dawn

brings in the bulldozer,

the scraper, the mower, oh

migrant-woman of the soil,

and the berry thicket,

we will miss you, prescient meteor,

as will the dependable thorns

which tore your wings, floating

(not once but many times)

from this journey to the next.

 

                       -Leonore Wilson