Saturday 19 November 2022

Five Poems by Marianne Tefft


Legs outstretched

Arms akimbo

Osuna strides through the village

As she has from the dawn of time

In the Beginning Place

When she hears the djembe drums

Her heart beats with pride

She remembers the salt spray

Against her face

The ocean’s tears could not quench her thirst

Even as too-strong arms bore her to the New World

Where she stands resilient

Tall like tamarind trees

Provoked by centuries of storms

Brighter than the moonlit night

Rising above the darkness

Of the land and secret hearts

Pouring forth her guardian light


The Roots of Trees

I do not know if the tamarinds and oaks

Guard their feelings beneath thickened skin

Pock-marked by blights and storms

Natural and unnatural

I cannot say with certainty

If forest memories ebb and flow

Through their xylem and phloem

Only to accumulate at last

In emotional dendrochronology

But I want to believe

I do as the hillside elders do

When I protect my heartwood

In times of distress

Their longing roots plunge deeper

Awash in emerald oxytocin

That drives them even through rock

Toward the least they need to survive

Like the gnarled giants

I have weathered loss of face and dignity

And near loss of mind in my time

Yet it comforts me to think

Love burrows on like the roots of trees


Hummingbird Days

First my friend’s hummingbird

Captured by an alert camera in the morning light

Feathers tinted like the phantasmagoric rainbow

Fanned across the Florentine ceiling

Of the Castillo de Sammezzano

Then another two-dimensional bird

Announcing those long-listed for an award that shares its name

Suddenly I have seen two colibris within minutes

Where I have seen none in the back garden for days

Their coats iridescent

Like the nacre mouth of the fluted vase

Perched atop the organ my mother played at bedtime

Feathers folded like unruly praying hands

Perfectly disorganized in the way of dry stone walls

As if to help weather their tiny tectonic storms

Perhaps the hummingbirds have come to take me home

To the memory of my childhood yard

Technicolor wind-up toys

Colourful kin to the kaleidoscope I craved

As I splashed in shiny puddles in the summer driveway

Spectra arced so kindly across the asphalt

Despite unpromising circumstances

Passing as quickly as the micro-beats of wings


Rainbow Country

When the first drops land on the windshield of my commute

I become a menace on these tropical roads

Not because the asphalt aquaria fill to overflowing

Or the coastal road through Mullet Bay

Suddenly welcomes kayaks but deters a little Nissan

Or the hillside has been known to hill-slide into my backyard

In cahoots with Big Mama Irma

The matriarch of climatic mayhem

But because I am known to be sunny

Storms bring the chance to top up my cup

Ever half-full and expectant

Like the suede dog

Parked on the back shelf of my aunt’s sedan

Head a-swivel with every bump of every childhood trip

I have one hand for the wheel and one for the camera

I am looking for rainbows


You Have Never Seen the Ocean

Is it true, love

You have never seen the ocean

You come from an ancient land

Locked away from the sea

Where the first hunters roamed

In waist-high grass

And climbed for days

To the tops of cloud-wreathed mountains

Now you stand on the edge of a new land

Birthed from ancient volcanic hips

Cradled in the waves

Where the first fishers dove through spindrift

To forage plains of turtle grass

Is it true, love

You have never seen the ocean

Run beside her with languid steps

Out-racing footprints indelible

Only for the time between the crests

That endlessly erase the shore

Seen the Sun caress the horizon

Strewing rubies and diamonds

That dissolve into the sea

With a flash of phosphorescent green

Is it true, love

You have never seen the ocean

Plunged beneath the waves

To bathe in a timeless caress

And leaped through the surface

Your smile effervescent

As you raise your chin

Your mighty locks flinging

Prismatic water-fans

Into the luminous moonset

Is it true, love

You have never seen the ocean

Here you will write windswept poems

Breathing in the salty exhalations

Of our restless mother

By night the stars will crown my hair

Candelabrum around my head

Shining on our table in the sand

Where we dine on each other

Long and lingering feast

As Aldebaran and Rigel arc across the sky

And the waves kiss our bare feet

Is it true, love

You have never seen the ocean

Marianne Tefft is a poet and lyricist who daylights as a Montessori teacher on the Dutch Caribbean Island of Sint Maarten. Her work is infused with love, moonlight and the rhythms of tropical life. Her poems appear in print and online journals and anthologies in Canada, the U.S., India, Serbia and Sint Maarten. She is the author of the poetry collections Full Moon Fire: Spoken Songs of Love (June 2022) and Moonchild: Poems for Moon Lovers (coming in December 2022). 

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