A NEW VOLUPTUARY
Once I was fearful of the growing season --
in a dark place, we don't want to see
the way green things reach and grope.
Such hopefulness coiled in every cell,
such energetic, muscular striving.
We don't want to hear the fey twitters
of feathered bombs that drop from the sky
to bounce on lawns with legs like springs,
or hear the ticking of sprinklers, a signal
of heat waves to come, and we certainly
don't want the scent of jasmine, stronger by night,
and a hell of a tease besides, nor the caress
of a wind that at once flatters and beguiles.
And the taste of salted skin pressed to skin
firmly as lips meet lips? Bunkum. Balderdash!
Now, now I'm not so sure. Such provocations
can't always go unnoticed, be ignored. Why not
reach for June's strawberries that shiver redly
in the skins they're in, or thrust feet into sand,
or step outside ourselves the way light breaks
through stained glass and falls in colored shadow
on the walkway that promises gardens beyond?
Jenniffer L. Lesh
2 June 2004
Bakersfield, Calif. USA
Like phantom ladders made of water,
heat rises from the street. _Sun devils_,
your mom calls it, and her gaze goes back-
wards to Tennessee and the swelter, mud cakes
patted dry with her sister, toes dangling
in a ditch. But here's
a dry heat, a fraudulent desert
that sends mutant trees shooting towards
a sky only seen in 50's postcards. Fading,
mellowed. To feel nostalgia for a place
you still live in means you've got
one foot out the door, means now may be
the last chance to burn your back to snakeskin
ribbons. Or the last season the wisteria
ripens fat cocoon pods you and your mother
pick to dry, snugging up against the future,
that bedeviling future you divine like water.
16 June 2004
She's been avoiding me for months, the stooped
elf-woman who lives next door
in her mother's house, her mother now buried.
Never-married, hair close-cropped and Groucho's
eyebrows without the irony. But eyes startling,
like Liz Taylor's. A nervelet, she rakes
for hours -- the sound of sycamore leaves
skittering, nervous as an introvert's hands.
Hostile, back and forth, coiling a question
that's meant for effect, not to be answered.
When I meet her blues over the crumbling wall,
it's all nicey-nice from me, all how'dos and
cooing for grapefruits bigger than fists.
And she never looks at me, but plucks a stray
dead vine (mine) from the wall (her dad built)
and says for the umpteenth-ever time she wishes
I'd take down the eucalyptus that hunches its raw
back against her wall (again, her dad built it
from bricks and mortar and, one imagines, blood).
_See the cracks_. She traces with a dirty glove
and the eyes are downcast but roil fiercely
in their net of lines. _Or maybe the lady
who buys your place_. Suggesting there's always
one who comes after, a parade of haughty women
with overblown curls and overgrown trees
that drip wisteria and jasmine like laughter upon her.
Jennifer L. Lesh
23 June 2004
Poetryetc is a listserv relating to poetry and poetics which provides a forum for poets to debate their critical and creative work. The list has over the years run a number of projects for its members, of which Snapshots has been the most enduring.
Every Wednesday, Poetryetc members were invited to post short poems on any subject or in any form they chose. The idea was to make a poetic collage of instamatic snaps of that day that reflected the international membership of the list. The project has generated an astounding number of poems.
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