THE SAME PRIVACY
These I saw: small onions laid
with their root discs punctuating
the longitude poles. Polar caps,
yes, navels to the earth where
their buried unions still hold.
That space along the stalls,
unpeopled on this damp morning,
stops me (for it insists), with the
white parking lines leaping
to the distant edge of gray asphalt,
and to the gray and black
of my mind’s caverns.
There is beauty and there is
the comfort of isolation,
Why (I ask myself)
should I crave this comfort,
which would seem black, dead?
I walk in this same privacy
where the dead black
chicken house vibrates in the stink
of manure, and winds from the west,
and the dead black of a remembered
gas tank rising by the road?
Does the pensive void pull me
to the empty, and therefore personal,
paving, begetting a sage
from my wilderness to give life
to the vacancy?
OUT FROM THE EPICENTER
A turbulence of earthquakes
has etched rivers through
my stucco plains.
Its engravings thread,
lightning forms, from the
epicenter out into vastness.
Not until some determined
handyman caulks them white
will they dry up.
And where they disappear
will flow other rivers,
long in new courses.
The daddy longlegs and
trestle builders will direct them,
and replenish my plains.
BASINS OF SOUND
There is no top. There are always further heights to reach.
—Jascha Heifetz, Lithuanian-born violinist
Once in a while,
the drifts of what I hear
arc above muddy sounds,
and their permanence is sensible,
I am glad to sharpen my listening.
Will I, like the young who need
high volume sound piped into their
ears until the throbs beat again,
attune my listening only to my whims?
My ears, catchment basins of sound
and filters against the cacophony
which is merely noise, increase keenly,
and reach beyond the familiar,
and learn anew as Heifetz did.
THE PSYCHE IN WAITING
Teal blue the naugahyde,
pale green the dividers,
a row house of chairs stood anchored.
Prompt and well-oiled, the elevator
opened and closed, closed and opened.
The floor bore quiet foot traffic.
Restless the psyche in waiting,
witness the unending watcher.
People went down and up and down.
For the languishing, rest in sitting,
for the chatterer, audience.
The stressed simply slept.
The hospital picks petals
from the blossom patients
and sets them upright for attention.
A PAEAN TO BEING HOME
The catch-cornered room
reserved for me
emptied its vacancy
for my possession.
I brought in all the boulders
and dog smells, books
unpeeled, and parking places
collected in distant hours.
But I left motion and motor outside.
My room had no space for the violence
of traveling, high speed, fear of eighteen-
wheelers spinning at eighty.
For my ease, the reserved room
breathed quiet, and absence of
forced invasion up the interstate,
and noise of the passing gears.
I let the quiet and its particular
liveliness tickle over me
like leaves of aspen blowing
green and silver in the sun.
My quiet, enlarging room
has its own noon and night,
its hours resplendent in
active gold, catching light.
Phoebe Marrall, orphaned at the age of nine, was a survivor of The Depression and of a grueling childhood. When she died in 2017 at the age of eighty-four, her daughters Jane Hendrickson and Camille Komine inherited hundreds of poems she had written. They remained unpublished during her lifetime, but it is the intention of her daughters that a collection be compiled for readers to appreciate. “Relief, Have You a Name?” is currently a work in progress, being edited by Gayle Jansen Beede.