Alizabeth Leake—talented poet, wonderful tutor, caring friend. Her gifted writing skills are shown below in some of the poems she has allowed me to post here on this blog. Enjoy! <3
Love Story of a Dirt Road
I pulled at my mother’s sleeve
when I couldn’t match my feet to hers,
feeling pricks of scab at her elbows
that she always had
from clawing her goose bumps,
and asked if I could take a picture
of a shoreline of mud on an overturned rock,
a single soggy sock on the road.
The love story of a country road
is not a song
an attempt to say
the thin-wind thirst of the long, sun worn days
it does not speak through
layers of rock, or even
a single, dry feather.
It is as silent as the highest winter-limbs of the cedar.
We stayed until evening because to leave meant
to be alone again, as is a part of love,
and with the setting red sun all sank into
a prayer that hangs by the root tangles,
heavier than the tired eyelids
of the newborn.
To the Stairs from My Room in the Basement
At day, I’ll smell your climate of small
bodies shadow-legged and webbed and pay
my morning salutation so each vertebrae
in your bent back cracks under heel’s fall,
take the slanted staff that stems the wall—
forget the bed of my spent head you play
this night, my ribs and hips and face that lay
hard swollen in your crib, forget all.
Against your diagonal wilderness
this night I compass my angular soul,
though the weather of loneliness and soft yawn.
You are the chamber in which I undress
and arrange rigid limbs. Hold me whole,
old heart-closet, keep, bridge me to dawn.
To My OCD
Age 5. You looked for the chain of paper clips hooked
beneath the top drawer, felt for coins in the slots
of my cassette case and between picture book pages,
for beads dug through the seams of stuffed animals
and looked again because only if they weren’t there
would you remember checking for the things I’d stolen.
Age 7. You hid in a cupboard set between black marble floor
and black marble countertop when you skipped little league
cheer practice because you weren’t supposed to be home.
I stared at the pins of light that came through the hinges.
Age 13. In the after-vacation invasion, my brother found
a jar of pickles, the lid’s pressure button belly-up.
Everyone else had egg salad for lunch and lost it
for dinner. I declined, and for that I thank you.
Age 18. My EMT workbook open on my desk: two wings
limp with fatigue. Check-offs in the margins like beaker marks,
a purple-capped phial of separated blood in my pencil mug.
I almost finished at the top of the class but you convinced me
not to take the exam so I would never risk mixing winged
with shielded IV catheters or counting CPR beats too quickly.
One day, you’ll shuffle over tile in padded orthopedics
so I wake in the morning and wonder what I heard,
knee jerk my way downstairs to check the furnace and jump
at an empty popcorn bag. Maybe, I’ll wonder just long enough
to forget whether or not I should latch the chimney at night.
A pair of them, Korean, one of three decorations that I wasn’t willing to leave at home when I went to college. One of the beaks is painted green and the other red with the wood visible beneath. Each cups the length of my palm, a little skinnier, a little taller, the weight of an egg. After eleventh grade when my friend went back home to Seul after a year, she gave them to me in a silk sack. “Remember, this is wedding gift, for happy marriage.”
I keep one in each boot.
Behind the refrigerator doors
hall of mirrors,
behind the metal racks under the light bulbs’
spread, there fallen
on dark cement: a gallon of skim milk,
handle split like an opened bean,
milk pours staccato out of the seam
the widening tundra-gray tide.
A grocer boy with hands in pockets
counts empty slots down the dairy aisle,
across the spill’s edge,
the milk prickling on rough cement.
1. A smooth surface reflects light in a single, brilliant beam. It is on the harsh and fractured ground that light disperses, touching our dark corners.
2. Friction. 1) Static: The resistance to starting movement. 2) Kinetic: The resistance to continuing movement. Remember holding hands for the first time?
3. The principle of latent heat demonstrates that the temperature we feel is the transfer of heat or energy between two objects. We measure all things by measuring the change in ourselves.
brown rice spills
out of a blue tupperware
like yesterday’s minutes.
When you first learn a song, play with one hand at a time.
When you know the right and left, play with both hands together.
When you know a song in your heart, forget how to play the one hand without the other.