Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Dorianne found a bolt of silk and I have a jasmine tea

The scent of her you remember the longest, I suppose.
Not consciously, but buried like a recital piece you once
worked over so stiffly, like a sore tooth, but now can’t even hum,
until you pass by an open window where notes start and then suddenly stop sharp,
or you hear someone say “air” with a small rise at the end,
as though they had meant to swallow it, but a gust had lofted it
like silken milkweed at dusk.

And her skin, yes, the warmth of it, the buttermilk sheen
that deepened to sweet citrine as the summer bloomed.
You walked up hills together.  In the bright sun,
in the open places, the snakes uncoiled on stones,
the wasps wavered over pink balm that stood
both so earnestly straight-stemmed and faintly wilted at the leaves.

And then her hand closed tightly around yours,
as she spied, with a small gasp of wonder,
an elk cow, softly feeding on the grass by the pines.
Her hand just as quickly released,
as the cow bolted towards the trees,
and in the stars that could not yet be seen,
a lovely queen let her head tilt back,
with her distant hair
so flowing, so free.


  1. love all the images here..so vivid...esp..you hear someone say “air” with a small rise at the end, as though they had meant to swallow it, but a gust had lofted it like silken milkweed at dusk....this is so palpable that i can literally feel it..

    1. Thank you, Claudia, for your generous comment. I often feel the vibrant images in your poetry as well.

  2. I agree with Claudia, this is vivid and palpable. The delicacy combined with vividness becomes luminosity in your writing.

    "Elk cow" is a specific term, but it feels so poetic here in the language of your poem that draws me in starting with that fabulous title. To bring scent and music together, and visual image, and the feel of the sun on the skin, textures this gorgeously. To end with the stars not yet seen! This is vision, and I wonder at it, and you, in a free and flowing kind of way.


    1. Thank you, Ruth. I'm glad you enjoyed the title. It caused a small a stir on Facebook because some of my readers felt that it didn't fit the poem. I have trouble with titles, and this one was a bit of a lark and, perhaps, too much of an inside joke. Dorianne Laux, the poet, is one of my Facebook "friends" and she often shows up on my news-feed as have done something or other in some game. The day that I was composing this I read: Dorianne Laux found a bolt of silk on Zuma Blitz. It was too poetic to pass up. I also was thinking very hard about Jasmine Tea. I had written a small scene of Jasmine Tea drinking in my last post, "Iridium Nib," but took it out as it was too much of a tangent. I felt that the scent of the tea was so floral and feminine, yet musty, somewhat like a silk dress hanging in a closet that still has the faint remnants of perfume in its fibers. The poem took off from there.
      The "air" was from Benedict Cumberbatch's reading of "Ode to a Nightingale." The line is "to take into the air my quiet breath" and somehow he set the word aloft.
      Thank you for noticing "elk cow." The last stanza was difficult as far as poetic flow and making sense. I don't like that I had to repeat "her hand"--I don't like repetition like that in such a short poem, but I think I have to keep it as is for the sake of clarity. Cassiopeia is a favorite constellation of mine, very comforting, for some reason, and even though her myth is that of a vain queen, for me there is something so wonderfully sensual about her floating on high with her head tilting backwards. Thank you for your kind words.