To read Mary Ellen Redmond's interview with Gregory Orr in this issue.
Mary Ellen Redmond
I wake to the dark
drum roll of October rain,
a street lined with vacant homes.
White wicker, gas grills
wait out the season in storage.
Kids gather at the corner looking
like a herd of little humpbacks, until
a yellow bus swallows them whole.
On the road to school, a single red
tree redeems the dirty linen skyline.
Blackbirds, heads moving up
and down like typewriter keys,
lift their tail feathers, making
random checks across a lawn.
A student trudges in damp and drowsy.
Todays lesson? On the board:
Listen to the rain.
Pay attention to birds.
I was so famished,
I could have eaten you whole—
gulped you down in mouthfuls
bits and dribble
for my napkin to catch.
you fed me slowly
from a childs spoon,
the stuff of which I first devoured,
then started swirling around
my mouth and tongue,
when the next
I want to thank whoever sent
the eleven moths that lay flat
against my window pane
this November evening.
Their delicate wings are shaped
like hearts, edged in a soft brown fringe.
Rains turned to sleet, and I am afraid
they will not live the night, but now
they are lovely, unexpected, and so
still, (not a single flutter from them.)
watch leaves fly at the mercy
of the wind
until the next flurry
flutter turns to crackle
as they scoot
consider this leaf the color of merlot
smooth as tanned hide a framework of veins
an object magnified reveals its divine structure
the tip of my finger is an intricate maze
a sprig of dusty miller now a velvet antler
a maple seed becomes a dragonfly wing
to what have I been blind?
and whatever tongue called this world
put your ear to its lips
The Things We Hold On To
When my father got sober (seriously this time) he paced
from the front door to the back, staring past the screen
as if the answer were in the leaf pile next to the apple tree.
He did not talk for days.
Now he hides in the lining of my dreams,
watching to see what I will write.
I will write about his white linen bureau scarf, his daily change,
his teeth swimming in a glass.
There was a time when I could make myself invisible
in the narrow space between wall and stove.
There is too much chatter above my shoulders.
Stars and stars tonight, confetti thrown into the ether.
A fragment of Jacks skull clenched in Jackies hand.
Oh, the things we hold on to.
Six brown pears in a black bowl.
Sixteen swans on Long Pond.