How like a winter hath my absence been …
Water witching my way to the river I unclasp the iron
brackets of the clapboard gate—
the smell of brown green. The estuary renews
its force while the lichen pimples
the slabs of stone at the water’s edge.
Crescano crescano crescano
églantier, ephedra & saule blanc.
I whisper wishes to make the world
sweeter before it snaps apart.
The better angel is a man right fair.
Though the wood of the willow is tough
it easily decays. Covered with goat droppings
I discover an unfound book Look Homeward, Angel.
I’m lost yet not alone.
How like a winter hath my absence been and the better angel is a man right fair are lines from Sonnets 97 and 144 by Shakespeare.
Blood-red berries blush the wild bud haunts…
while the day lilies decompose
peptic citron in color pitiable
aside rustic herbage, spear shafts
sturdy of the chokeberries. The juice
of the aronia drips tints her fingers
as she harvests summer’s bursting
fruit by stony steeps and ancient walls.
She stops to taste. No bitterness that she
will bitter think. Childless, running sore,
her womb atremble. Balance the intake
and the outtake she knows: the douches
in the womb, the waters with brewes
wort and iron, the sulfur and mallow—
double penance to correct correction.
Blood-red berries blush the wild bud haunts is a line from The Georgics by Virgil. (As translated by Kimberly Johnson.)
Chanting in the choir, she hinted at serenity
not hard edge chaos nor
persistent terror & tattered jitters.
At times she played the flute
vibrating the air through a hole, a black hole
so dense it swallowed her up. Tir’d with all these,
for restful death I cry,…
I taste that adaption dark and constant
a black silk dress—unchic—
that envelopes you in a place of gripped
grief. No, you will not be a beggar for salvation—
simple truth miscall’d simplicity. You are called
to be a burden to a poplar. Unless…
Save that, to die, I leave my love alone.
Quotations are from Sonnet 66 by William Shakespeare.
No bitterness that I will bitter think is and Nor double penance, to correct corrections are lines from Sonnet 111 by William Shakespeare.
After “Desert Road” by Ellen McCarthy
I ghost quit my job, up and left
the asparagus plants— Spargelzeit be
damned! I escaped the white gold
in a blur of maps.
A liquid pris’ner pent in walls of glass
no more! The white angora swished
her tail la-di-da so up I packed the cat
plus my bikini pink & poof! In dust
and pebbles I bolted off.
To the clear day with thy much clearer light
…in time…in time…
the red desert of the sagebrush steppe
shimmered thru cracked windows.
…this thy golden time…
The following phrases are from Shakespeare’s sonnets:
“a liquid pris’ner pent in walls of glass…” (5)
“to the clear day with thy much clearer light…” (43)
“…this thy golden time…” (3)
Alice-Catherine Jennings’s newest book Notations: The Imagined Diary of Julian of Norwich is available from Red Bird Chapbooks. Portion of net proceeds benefits the NM Refugee Educational Bridge Program to help support young Afghanis to pursue high school education in the US.