Welcome to where I am, where my kitchen's always messy, a pot's (or a poet) always about to boil over, a dog is always begging to be fed. Drafts of poems on the counter. Windows filled with leaves. Wind. Clouds moving over the mountains. If you like poetry, books, and music--especially dog howls when a siren unwinds down the hill-- you'll like it here.


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Sunday, April 12, 2009

IVY, SING IVORY



This is an old poem, from WILDWOOD FLOWER. I began it as we drove past the Tuckaseegee River, dogwoods blooming on the ridges, the rapids in the river echoing their wind-blown blossoms. "The church bell rings Easter all morning," but so do the trees and the wildflowers. The redbud outside is blooming now. The landscape is waking us up, saying "Come out, look around, wake up."


Ivy, Sing Ivory

1
Like women, the dogwoods go nowhere
and wait for their season, the sun coming back
like a sea-roving laddie. By May Day

the ground will be white with their fare-thee-wells
no man will heed, his boots grinding
a path through the leaf mold. Such pretty things,
Mama said, touching the ivory lace
of my wedding clothes. What good are they
to me now? Every night I see stars falling,
white petals into the wilderness.

2
The church bell rings Easter
all morning like, clear-broken, ice
and beneath it the almost unmoving water.

3
White water charges the banks
after rain has been heavy.
I hear it wherever I go,
like the swirl of my dress
as I stand up suddenly,
kicking the chair from my path.

4
Leaves rasp underfoot half-a-day’s
climb to the summit. A possum sways
four branches heavenward.
Silver bells,
what sweeter music
than silence? The snail travels
slowly toward water that’s been gone
for centuries, rocked by the tidesong
of wind sweeping leaves back
and forth through the gap.

5
Down to the gristmill I follow the creek swollen
so loud by rain I can’t hear myself
sing ho-a-honey-ho. Lady Luck’s
left me a buckeye to warm
in my pocket all day like an earring
the old woman pulled from her dirty pack
whispering, “Filigree.”
“Gypsies,” my Mama said,
pointing me back to the crochet hook
stuck in a tangle of tiny white stitches.
“It’s too hard,” I cried, throwing down
all my fancywork. Fast as I could
I set out for the top of Bald Ridge,
asking] why can’t I keep walking out of this
endless blue sky into somebody else’s
life, fiddles and red skirt
that tickles the floorboards till
dawn. But I knew I could never go far
from the sound of this creek tumbling down
to the lilies of Cullowhee Valley
that bloom like a garland of lace
on my doorsill. Oh ivy, sing ivory,
rosebud and thorn! If only this afternoon
really were endless alongside the gay Tuckasegee
where now I ask, watching its broken light leaving
me, why can’t this water run smooth as stone?

1 comment:

My Carolina Kitchen said...

A beautiful poem. I love the dogwoods. I hope the rains don't destroy their beauty.
Sam