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.)

 

Martha

 

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. 

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