Monday, 30 May 2022

Four Poems by Kim Ports Parsons


 

Dream of the Homeplace 

 

The oaks regrown, cornfields stretching to woods,

hickory standing, unstruck by lightning.

Slam of the screen door, climb to the attic,

bare feet parting dust like fish part water.

Boxes spill, his pole and rusted tackle,

her wedding dress ghost floats by the window.

A dull slapping sound, wake against a boat,

as a storm picks up, and I periscope

out of the house. Laundry flaps on the line.

Silver slashes of sudden summer rain

 

stroke their way up the hill, bending the stalks

row by row, and my hair has grown wispy

and wild, lifting, swaying in the currents

like seaweed, petrichor rising, rushing

across the meadow, a benediction.

My long gown wraps me like a winding sheet,

my beard white and thick as Methuselah’s,

glinting with bits caught there like shiny lures

in a tangled fisherman’s line, dangling,

a seed pod, an old key, a golden charm.

 

When I wake up, the homeplace is still gone.

The garden is still cemented over.

There is nothing there now but roads and shops,

bleached bone sidewalks, a dense townhouse forest.

No watery breezes through high trees there,

no orioles weaving a teardrop nest,

no fireflies swim in darkening green there,

no drops on the sill now, no dear ones, no door.

Everything is gone now, but the dry

wind of memory, against which I lean. 

 

 

Forest Salutation 

 

Plant yourself

ankle deep

in a vernal pool

of mayapples

 

Arch your neck back

and stretch

 

Sightline

to the greening tips

of poplars

reaching

reaching

 

Kneel

 

Lift waxy veils

to reveal

singular blossoms

 

Adjust your vision

to the flowers

 

Breathe in

their glowing light

 

Repeat 

 

 

Concerning Stars 

 

Visualize a star in your heart made of blue light,

the therapist says. Not the gold stars stamped

across the stapled graphs of my childhood.

Not the bright yellow stars that I drew

above the green hill and red house. 

 

I imagine one more like a stargazer lily,

the way it might open slowly and linger

in air, as whispers between lovers

some early morning.  Or maybe it compares

to the spare stars of winter, elegant pinpoints,

 

a slow waltz of soldiers and ladies above snow.

In summer, stars are swimming in cream,

smeared across blue velvet and blurry

as hopscotch chalk after a long day of play.

They kept me up as a child, awake

 

for hide and seek, swinging through the yard.

I didn’t know then about stars being born,

or dying, imploding, going supernova,

or falling into categories like tubes

of paint: giant red, blue dwarf, double yellow.

 

Stars were friends then, guardians, someone to hear

my confessions.  Sometimes hands shine like stars

against the glass, waving hello, farewell,

a code of transition:  you are leaving,

I am staying, take me with you, this is goodbye. 

 

Breathe into the star and make it grow brighter.

It glows like the signal we’ve come to an end.

In the universe of Hollywood,

a star like Audrey Hepburn waves to a star

like Fred Astaire, and I cry too, strings tugging

  

my puppet tears, stardust softening her face,

cheeks glistening like the star on Glenda’s wand

drawing circles around the scene.  A pretty joke

don’t you see, to mistake the reflection

in someone’s eyes for something else,

 

an entire galaxy of love, true

as the speed of light, when it’s only

a dropperful of atoms bouncing back,

no more meaning than sunshine

on an apple.  There is no echo

 

of some farther star, lodged like mine

in such dark matter. No, my cookie-cutter.

You must be the bright and shining horse

I hitch my broken wagon to.  Yes, my starfish,

star of wonder and wish-I-might, you’ll have to do. 

 

 

If Our Eyes Were Able, We Would Find the Sky

 

…from the reflection of this light the air all around will be coloured 

as we see it to be, as the sun shines upon its parts… ~Epicurus of Samos 

 

Even though we both stand on the porch and trace

the double curve over the valley, we don’t

 

see the same rainbows. Waves of light pass through

drops of water and break open along a single line of sight.

 

Tree swallows swoop over the meadow, and two rabbits

step onto the lawn from the tall grass. The first bow

 

bends across a plane of air. Then the second appears,

then disappears, now on this side, now on that,

 

a magician’s trick of red to violet, violet

to red, now you see it, now you don’t.

 

The deeper blue between the two is a trap door

holding in the light, which enters but can’t return,

 

Alexander’s Dark Band. He explained it first

in the year 200. Imagine taking time to stop

 

and ponder rain. Some accident of light, the optics

of possibility and limit.  Something breaks each of us open

 

eventually, try as we might. It’s not easy

to reveal our own surprising set of parts.

 

The way a page in a book cracks open the world’s colours.

Or the first time I met your face, shining like an old friend

 

stepping off a train, igniting a thundercloud

in my chest. A double rainbow is gift enough.

 

Soon the rain and clouds move away to the east.

Centuries later, Felix Billet saw nineteen bows

  

in his light chamber. If our eyes were able, he said,

we would find the sky filled with arcs, arcs crossing

 

wider arcs, almost into infinity. A rose of rainbows,

he called it. Perhaps when one body passes through

 

another, it leaves a trail in the sky of memory,

like the shadow of the mountain walking across the valley,

 

the familiar space which tracks between us,

the swallows on the birdhouse, the rabbits

 

grazing in tandem. The rainbow is not located

in the sky. It travels in waves to our eyes.


Kim Ports Parsons grew up near Baltimore, earned degrees, taught, and worked in libraries. Now she lives next to Shenandoah National Park, gardens, walks, and writes. Her poems have been published in many journals; new pieces are forthcoming in december and Poetry Ireland Review. Her debut collection, “The Mayapple Forest,” will be published by Terrapin Books in 2022. She volunteers for Cultivating Voices LIVE Poetry. Visit her at www.KimPortsParsons.com

 

1 comment:

  1. Kim these are very lovely, touches my heart in so many ways.

    ReplyDelete

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