Why this?

The occasional poem of my own and a generous helping of work by others that I find inspiring. Site is named for a beloved book by one of my favorite writers, Italo Calvino, whose fanciful work lights--and delights--my soul.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Sawdust

Why not lindendust,
hackberry, hemlock,
live oak, maple, why
name the remains
after the blade, not
what it cut—

only now do I see
that the air is full
of small sharp stars
pinwheeling through
every living thing
that gets in their way.

--Sharon Bryan

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Rugelah, 5 A.M.

The house is dark and breathing
deep under the covers.
I tiptoe to the kitchen,
lift bowls from the shelf,
mix cream cheese and butter.
Flour dusts my fingers
as I roll dough into a circle,
spread blackberry jam
with the back of a spoon
the way Mama taught me.
I work quickly, leaning over,
sprinkling nuts and raisins
on top, my hands
shaping ovals, folding,
crimping edges.

Lights sifts through the windows
And I think of Mama, coming
home after so many months,
how we baked before dawn,
I, barefoot, she in nightgown
and slippers. Now I slide
the tray into the oven
and glide through the quiet
to wait for the raising.

--Sondra Gash

Friday, August 6, 2010

Morning Song

Here, I place
a blue glazed cup
where the wood
is slightly whitened.
Here, I lay down
two bright spoons,
our breakfast saucers, napkins
white and smooth as milk.

I am stirring at the sink,
I am stirring
the amount of dew
you can gather in two hands,
folding it into the fragile
quiet of the house.
Before the eggs,
before the coffee
heaving like a warm cat,
I step out to the feeder-
one foot, then the other,
alive on wet blades.
Air lifts my gown – I might fly –

This thistle seed I pour
is for the tiny birds.
This ritual,
for all things frail
and imperiled.
Wings surround me, frothing
the air. I am struck
by what becomes holy.

A woman
who lost her teenage child
to an illness without mercy,
said that at the end, her daughter
sat up in her hospital bed
and asked:
What should I do?
What should I do?

Into a white enamel bath
I lower four brown eggs.
You fill the door frame,
warm and rumpled, kiss
the crown of my head.
I know how the topmost leaves
of dusty trees
feel at the advent
of the monsoon rains.

I carry the woman with the lost child
in my pocket, where she murmurs
her love song without end:
Just this, each day:
Bear yourself up on small wings

to receive what is given.
Feed one another
with such tenderness,
it could almost be an answer.

--Marcia F. Brown

Monday, August 2, 2010

Half-Rack at the Rendezvouz

She had a truck, red hair,
and freckled knees and took me all the way
to Memphis after work for barbecue.
We moaned and grunted over plates of ribs
and sweet iced tea, even in a room of strangers,
gnawing the hickory char, the slow
smoked meat peeling off the bones,
and finally the bones. We slurped
grease and dry-rub spice from our fingers,
then finished with blackberry cobbler
that stained her lips and tongue.

All the trees were throwing fireworks
of blossom, the air was thick
with pollen and the brand-new smell of leaves.
We drove back roads in the watermelon dusk,
then tangled around each other, delirious
as honeybees working wisteria.
I could blame it all on cinnamon hair,
or the sap rising, the overflow of spring,
but it was those ribs that started everything.

--William Notter


"Cinnamon hair"--love that, especially in a poem like this one.