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To read Mary Ellen Redmond's interview with Gregory Orr in this issue.

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Contributor Notes




Mary Ellen Redmond

Mary Ellen Redmond

Another Day

 

 

 

Quiz Tomorrow

 

 

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.

Today’s lesson? On the board:

Listen to the rain.

Pay attention to birds.

 

 

 

 

 

So Good

 

 

I was so famished,

I could have eaten you whole—

gulped you down in mouthfuls

without chewing,

bits and dribble

for my napkin to catch.

 

But instead

you fed me slowly

from a child’s spoon,

the stuff of which I first devoured,

then started swirling around

my mouth and tongue,

finally swallowing

not knowing

when the next

agonizing morsel

would arrive.

 

 

 

 

 

Unlikely Valentine

 

 

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.

 

Rain’s 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 

 

spin      settle           

                              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?

 

                                                      

                        look

        

  and whatever tongue         called this world

 

            to attention—

 

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 Jack’s skull clenched in Jackie’s hand.

            Oh, the things we hold on to.

 

Six brown pears in a black bowl.

            Sixteen swans on Long Pond.