The Feather in the Cellar

The Feather in the Cellar

In the clapboard house, the cellar

the laundry and shelves of canned goods

where once my mother wept, soft as a feather

 

Alone upon her tiny chair of wood

her face a sadness I could not touch

the laundry and shelves of canned goods

 

So solitary, the chair she clutched

tears washed her cheeks, stained her cotton blouse

her face a sadness I could not touch

 

I stood upon the stair in the house

What could I do? I could be good

tears washed her cheeks, stained her cotton blouse

 

Hidden, so small, a child who couldn’t

fix it, watching her among the dirty clothes

What could I do? I could be good

 

I knew no words to utter

in the clapboard house, the cellar

sitting among the dirty clothes, the clutter

where once my mother wept, soft as a feather

 

(Published in Prime Number magazine online, August 2012)

Poem—In the Parking Garage

In the Parking Garage

(After Philip Levine’s “The Two”)

 

She opened the door and got out of the car,

walked briskly around and toward the

parking structure stairs, certain they

would be late. But it didn't matter. He

was trailing behind, as usual. There

was little said between them, 

too little said for too many years,

too grief-stricken at the prospect 

of there no longer being a them.

 

What unsaid things have passed between them,

what unthought thoughts have gone unbidden,

what fears unexpressed, what sorrows suppressed

in the face of exposure, of distrust.

The distrust that destroyed them. She stopped

and waited for him to catch up. The parking

garage waited in silence, too quiet for 

comfort, too cold for a moment that might

allow them to stop and remember.

 

The years have passed without understanding,

without recognition, without the knowledge 

that would come with too high a price for either.

Now the parking garage is silent. They have left,

left behind, left in a lost time that neither

can quite grasp again, time they would both grasp desperately

if they could. 

 

Lyric from a Dana Gioia Poem

 

 

This final stanza in Dana Gioia's poem "The Lost Garden" really spoke to me this morning. What a beautiful lyric.

 

The trick is making memory a blessing,

 
To learn by loss the cool subtraction of desire,

Of wanting nothing more than what has been,

To know the past forever lost, yet seeing

Behind the wall a garden still in blossom.

(From his collection Interrogations at Noon, Graywolf Press, 2001.)