I haven’t written much poetry over the last several years, but in the past few weeks, my poetry muse seems to have finally returned from a long vacation. Since I haven’t shared much original work here — and since I’m not really eager to go back to sending poems out for publication — I thought I’d post them. The first, written last month on the prompt of “shadows”…
February 1: Groundhog Goes to the FoodMart
Mrs. Fox, pushing her cart
in her best Sunday dress, string of pearls
at her red throat, reminds him
of the tenderness of spring chickens,
gives him a smile, white and sharp.
The Rabbit family crowds the cereal aisle.
As he chooses a plain cylinder of oatmeal,
Mother Rabbit says hello, steers the small talk
toward the petunias she’s planning
to brighten up the burrow,
the rows of cabbages and carrots
Father’s mapping out for the field.
The kits tug on Groundhog’s overalls, eyes bright,
whispering to him, one more snow,
one more afternoon of sledding, one more fort,
one more snowbunny with mittens for ears.
Sleepy-eyed Bear shuffles in, only nods
when anyone speaks, gets in line
with a quart of milk and a canned ham.
His bleary gaze meets Groundhog’s,
and he adds a can of coffee, economy size.
Groundhog waits in line, stares at the tabloids
while the chattering squirrel cracks gum
and rings up the shoppers ahead.
He feels their eyes on him, all watching as if
he could melt the gray slush outside with a glance,
could give them warmth and new life on a whim.
Even in this harsh fluorescent light,
he will not look at his feet.
And the second, for the prompt “the end”…
And Then What
The castle crumbled in ivy,
and wild sleek things with moon-bright eyes
prowl the ruins after dark.
The seventh son of a seventh son
had a dimpled baby girl
who married the miller’s boy and did
nothing of any consequence.
The castle mice forgot how to talk.
The queen’s grey cat still knew but held her tongue.
The fairies fell to dust, but some
became moths and dragonflies, beetles,
graceful and deadly spiders. Their queen
is a yellow bird with black-tipped wings.
She sings sometimes in the orchard
that’s gone to seed, perched on a branch
of golden pears, half of them rotting on the ground.
And now you ask, is there magic yet?
Is there any more to tell?
I know that look too well, that hope
that shines as sharp as a new-made sword.
That’s all, I say. There’s nothing more.
This world is old, and it’s tired; close your eyes
and go to sleep.
None of the frogs singing in the twilight
were ever princes. The mice will not show you
the secret door. That key under your pillow
won’t open it. Child,
don’t you know all stories end?