Poetry Challenge NaPoWriMo – Daily Poem
April 6, 2013
Paths up the mountain,
Like paths in life,
Become rough with wear.
Unconsciously we stumble
Over the rocks and roots
As if they suddenly sprang up
To test our patience,
To see if we are really
Looking where we’re going,
Or wandering mindlessly
Through the years, following
Whatever path is there,
Instead of creating our own,
With our unique vibrance.
I remember the drums in the desert
Of Senegal, their call and response
Echoing from my friend’s drum to the children,
Their songs filling the air with voices
In counterpoint to the beat.
From the Louisiana swamps we teachers came,
Drying out in the desert—nothing could be
Further from what we knew and yet—
The beginnings were here—
The jambalaya, etoufee, rice and shrimp
Aromas so complex they alone could fill us.
Standing on this sand, like stepping back in time,
We know it all started a century before
With slaves imprisoned in the hole of a ship,
The only ones who survived the inhumanity,
Loaded from the slave castle through
“The Door of No Return”
Only to endure what was beyond inhumanity.
I watch their children dancing and singing
Responding to our call,
With us as if we were carriers of peace
And I pray we are and will be.
A little boy who speaks only French
Takes my hand and proudly pulls me
To the school he is so proud of,
Build on a concrete slab with no books
And I smile and clap as if I had entered
A golden palace lined with tomes of wisdom,
For his smile is golden and his hope my desire.
“Damn You, Mother Nature”
Sharp wind and icy rain slash across my face,
My umbrella turns upside down
Almost flies from my hand.
I want to shout “Damn you, Mother Nature,
What did you do with Spring?
Don’t you know we’ve had enough!’
She must be going through menopause,
Restless, quiet and patient one moment
Raging the next like a warrior defending –
I don’t know what. What it was,
Slips away, and the sun comes up
And the birds sing Spring songs
And build nests and mate like they’ve never noticed
Nature was flipping out,
And I just sit here thinking
We women have our challenges, don’t we?
Ivy wraps around every tree in the yard
Entwined with leaves and branches,
Like lovers’ arms unable to let go
Of the one who feels smothered
By never being able to breathe her own air.
April 1, 2013
Dinner is at five for the squirrels in my yard.
They’re picky eaters, often ignoring
The piles of acorns covering the upper lawn,
Choosing instead to dig up winter’s buried
And left-over treasures.
Standing upright in their gray and white tuxedos
They seem so proper, neatly nibbling on one acorn
At a time, never arguing about whose it is,
Or if it’s organic or from a red or white oak
Or fallen into this yard from the neighbor’s.
Early in the morning when humans
Are still trying to open their eyes and fix the coffee,
My squirrelly friends are chasing each other
Up and down and around one tree after another
Dare devils, flying through space to the next tree’s branch.
I watch them defying gravity and common sense,
Envying the simplicity of their lives,
The joy of their play, and how they just go on,
Even on the day, the hark appeared and fled
With one of them hanging from its talons.
Published in Western North Carolina Woman, September 2005
Strong as mountains made me,
Carrying bushels of corn
Up the steep path
From the truck garden
Near the river,
Sitting on their front porches
Shucking the ears,
Balanced in the cradle
Of their cotton dresses.
Their voices, like birdsong,
With the autumn breeze.
Sitting beside them,
I touched the corn silk gently,
Wishing my hair
Were that shining golden color
Like a vision of forest faeries
Dancing beneath our chinaberry tree.
Holding the corn in my hands,
Feeling it was still alive
Though common sense told me
It couldn’t be,
Plucked from the stalk that way.
Gently, I peeled the outer skins away
Exposing the naked corn.
At night when the moon was full
I would lie awake
Floating in its light
As if balanced on the water
Of a cool mountain stream.
I had no questions formed to ask
But knew there were mysteries
Pulling at me in that cool light.
I knew my grandmother,
My mother too,
Knew the wisdom of the mountains
And the mysteries of the moon,
Though we never spoke of them.