Week two, and now there's a Facebook group were about 30 of us are posting some cards and writing notes. The excitement around this project is growing every day. Halfway through the week I get three cards, and the next day, four, after several days of nothing. It's like having a cold drink of water on a hot day (and these were, in fact, hot days).
August preens with spring-sewn bounty
basil in a deck pot spreads green fingers
nibbled by grasshoppers whose good taste
can only be acknowledged
by sending them back
to the yellow sea of a yard
no exaggerated watering here
the green will return soon enough
when the wind sends clouds
when the sky remembers how to rain.
This one went out to Auburn, Washington poet, Brendan McBreen.
My mother would say Brendan?
He’s Irish, then, this last not
a question, but pure, irrefutable
fact. To her. I was nine
the first time she made me so mad
I wanted to hit her, but she
was pregnant, see, and besides,
we really didn’t hit in my family.
Now she gazes out from under
Paul Nelson’s hat—I have no idea
how that came to be—and I
send the picture to my sisters,
with whom she was pregnant
the time I was angry
when I was nine.
Who’s to say
what will be the last dance
the last song sung in a foreign tongue
last walk to the mailbox
last trip to the mall
or the hot springs
last ride on a merry-go-round
last Cherries Jubilee
last pilgrimage to anywhere…
and who’s to say it won’t
start all over again
who’s to say
The "lake with many secrets" is Kokanee Lake, where Michel Trudeau died in an avalanche in November, 1998. His body has never been recovered.
THE CHILDREN OF WINTER
A freefall line of trees
snapped off like frozen twigs
looms across from the boulders
you clamber on above the lake
with many secrets hidden in its depths.
You test each step the way a guide
tests snow for stability,
usually you get it right,
not like the children of winter
who died here, doing what they loved,
leaving behind a legacy of memory.
They’ll hear you.
She passes him the towel
as if it was the book she wrote
just before she took out her curlers
and smoothed her hands over her bob,
just after she stitched the appliquéd
poppy down the skirt of her dress.
She returns to the laundry room
turns on the wringer washer
cold water only, good for her whites,
good, too, to hear him scream
when the hot water hits him.
THE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM
You escape into a corner
pull out some cards
and begin to write.
Then someone wants to know
what on earth you’re doing
that for, a twitter of disbelief
flitters round the room
where people come and go
talking of vanishing glaciers
and pink snow.
If the door opened right this moment
and an elephant walked in
it would probably cause
less of a fuss.
This is one of mine that didn't get to where it was going. It has no excuse. It was addressed correctly. It wore the right amount of postage. Was it something I said?
A FEAST FOR PAUL
At 6340 feet we sip wine poured from plastic bottles
that look like the real thing, something to consider
next time you decide to whack someone with one.
Less of a dent on the head
less of a dent in the wallet
(although maybe not as satisfying)
While we’re at it we drool over chocolate fondue
in which we dip bananas, oranges, strawberries,
nectarines, plums that somehow survived
in someone’s pack on the back-crunching
slog up the mountain. No dandelion soy latté
here, but oh—the Indian Paintbrush. If pain was
too good for him, what was good enough?
My father lost his mind
but not his hair.
His father was bald as a fire-ravished
hillside, but his mind was sharp, precise.
My hair has thinned a little,
I forget things, these days my son’s
hair looks more like mine than
Look into a mirror—
they’re all there,
their heads, at least,
looking for their owners.