Monday, September 21, 2009

Mermaid's Purse . . .

Washed up on the strandline
between wave and rocky beach
that marks the furthest reach of the sea,
I find, half-buried in a bed of kelp,
a curious lucent closed pocket,
tendrils dangling from each corner,
so named a mermaid's purse.
Within, a tiny dogfish quivers alive,
waiting for the moon to rise,
the waves to return,
life to begin.

Photo taken at the Brough of Birsay, Orkney, Scotland, September, 2009.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

#180 The Mermaid Tattoo . . .

She resides on my left inside ankle,
a small mermaid, tail curling, her aura
like a string of bright green seaweed,
spilling runes I cannot read.
But I know you, Moira,
traveller of long journeys,
survivor of storms,
sister of the deep sea.

Last week's Sunday Scribblings asks us to write about a tattoo, imaginary or real. These days I'm deep in research here in the very beautiful stone city of Inverness, Scotland, and poetry comes slowly.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Don't Speak . . .

Don't speak,
words will only steal the moment
Lean instead toward this stone,
this standing stone
marked by yellow lichen.
You may hear a mighty thrumming
4,000 years old, the earth tilts,
the elders sing the sun into rising.
All unfolds at the proper time,
even you here standing,
as silent as a stone.

Written in response to a visit to the Ring of Brodgar, on the West Mainland of Orkney, a Neolithic circle of stones, originally 60 stones, of which 27 remain on raised ground overlooking the Loch of Harry. Written for Carry on Tuesday's prompt #17 from Peter Auster's poem, “Farewell.”

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Kirkwall Crows . . .

As we trudge up Dundas Crescent at five o'clock,
one by one, the crows of Kirkwall flock
to land on eaves and roof lines,
their black wings tucked close to spines.
And on and on, still they fly down
to land along the rooftops, somehow bound
to this city of 6,000 souls near the sea,
as darkness falls, their calls a scree
of sound, nor sad nor sweet,
above these stone houses still so neat,
these narrow lanes, this quiet street.
Above all, North Sea winds push
clouds and rain to a blustery rush,
and yet we're home, inside and warm,
welcomed, cosseted,far from the swarm
of Kirkwall crows, their song long gone;
they'll ride the wind again at dawn.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Homage to Robert Frost

Robert Frost would not like it here.
Stone walls abound,
stone houses too, green lawns
meticulously maintained.
And yet today we walked in Merdun Wood,
a ramble along muddy paths,
past ravens rising from the trees,
and rain-swollen streams,
past a woman with a large black dog
and a blank stare.

We follow the path less taken,
far from gardens or tea, or appointed times.
Out here, a stranger makes our breakfast,
familiar faces remain just out of reach.
We pass cold toast and jam
and dream of a field of wild bluebells,
growing on a forest slope,
mountains rising above,
and miles to go before we sleep.

Written in Edinburgh, second day in Scotland, cold rainy weather, jet lag, in a quiet room overlooking a proper garden, stone walls just high enough to hide the neighbors, apple tree heavily laden with fruit leans against the wall, leaves just hint at fall, barely turning red.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Highwire Artist

She has already ascended the ladder,
above the makeshift stage.
Her attendant, white-suited, awaits,
red umbrella ready.
A wave of her hand,
the performance begins,
a delicate sliding forward of her foot,
legs decorously covered in blue silk,
she glides forward,
above them all, to dance
suddenly, improbably
in the air.

The ladies in the audience, long skirts
carefully arranged, sit at leisure,
their backs straight,
not an ankle showing.
They gasp at this moment of balance,
this arranged entertainment,
this stark leap
into the unknown,
facing down fear, embracing passion,
just before the fall,
the little death,
the abyss,
the end of what is known.

Written in response to William J. Glackens, Hammerstein's Roof Garden, c. 1901, currently in the collection of the Whitney Museum of American Art, as part of a month of writing poems for Postcard Poetry, and perhaps inspired by jumping into two months in Scotland. I found the postcard at John L. King's bookstore in Detroit. Image courtesy of Artchive