bar ditches (Palm Sunday)

spring ridge

Driving along the ridge,
Bright sun in a cold sky,
The bar ditch is filled with the first blush of spring.
Effervescent purple henbit covers the ground,
Weeds of childrens delight,
First bouquets of the season.

When my nieces were babes,
These weeds were their favorite flower until their father
Mowed the yard,
Decimating their wild flower garden and bringing bereft tears.

Did my grandfather tell me the story of why we call the ditches
Along the roadside ‘bar ditches’?
The dirt was borrowed ‘bar-red’
To raise the road, flattened for the wagons then model Ts
To travel above the fields.

Memory sometimes obscures the truth.

I remember that my father died on Palm Sunday,
Though it is not the truth.
But that is the memory I keep.
And it is Palm Sunday once again,
Not the date of his leave taking
But still the day I grieve.

And it is the first day of spring,
The day I remember my nieces’ grief
Over the heaped green weeds across their yard.

On this day, memory, unreliable and exact,
Borrows the joy before the grief…

Its the first of spring and all the birds sing
And little children palm frond process
Waving welcome the King.
Alleluia!
Alleluia!

(revised 2018)

***This is a poem written a few years ago and revised last year. In it are the memories of my grandfathers and my dad. And, on this Palm Sunday, I also remember my Mom and my brother, Frank, the father that mowed the weeds. I miss them all. So very much.

French Street, 1965

20180902_110906 (2)

we played in the creosote creek,
run off from the tie plant miles away
black and sticky
our beagle, Missy, would waller in the dark water
and my Dad said she never had a flea or tick,

the smell stayed on our barefeet
even though Mamma washed us clean.

long summer days deep in the back back
where at the bottom of the hill
a small pool formed.
no frogs or turtles ever populated
that little pond.

hills lush green with oaks, deep lobed
leaves and plenty of poison ivy
to keep us itching through August.

we stole pallets and nails and whatever
scrap we could carry from the builders
down the street,
dragging it all to the vacant lot
behind our yard, where we built palaces
and ships and tree fort perches,
where we could all escape with peanut butter
sandwiches and bottles of coke.

and the big kids all scoffed and laughed
at our efforts
but we knew there was no place
like home

considering gravity

October evening 2

the southern wind has kicked in
and by the sound of the creaks and groans
coming from the walls and windows,
it is trying its damnedest to be the big
bad wolf to my little stick house.

windchimes jangle wildly, flailing
themselves against the early spring front.
trees, newly blossomed, affronted by the tearing
away of their petals, bend and sway,
bowing into the wild air.

all the while, within the gale, I sit
still as the eye of a hurricane,
considering gravity
and the transmutation of flight.

A Rose is a Rose

‘What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other word would smell as sweet’
-William Shakespeare

A nice lady at Social Security called
saying that there was a problem
with my name.
What was my legal name?
I began to give her all the options
that it possibly could be-
married, maiden, middle-
puzzle pieces to put in different order-
What is my name?

How many names have I had in my life:
daughter, sister, friend, wife,
confidant, enemy,
patsy, scholar
employee, goof off,
slut, singer,
beloved, caregiver,
villain,
maker of sandwiches and beds,
counter of numbers,
lister of lists,
nagger and necessary evil,
writer of words, poet of no renown,
sewer of buttons, holder of hands,
weeper of tears,
reader,
card player,
bird watcher,
friend to angels

Our Lady

hyacinths 2 2014

The scent rises from the damp cool earth,
sweet as my grandmothers perfume.

That smell that still permeates the drawer
of the old vanity
with its foxed mirror.
When I open it,
she appears,
Our Lady of the Hyacinths,
in her pale lilac cloak suffused with perfume
and held high by fat cheeked cherubs,
like the little chalkware angels
that perched on her vanity top
with chipped wings
and bashful eyes.

I gently hold the heady blossoms
as I rake away the last of autumn’s leaves.
Sweetness lingers in my hands,
hands that are shaped like my grandmothers,
square palms with short fingers,
blessed by Our Lady of the Hyacinths.

Ode to Henbit

You, most persistent of weeds,
first bloom of spring,
clump of heavy green foliage
and tiny pink horned blooms.

You are the favorite
of children’s first bouquet,
their tiny fists filled with your
pungent aroma, fresh sodded scent.

You are the bane of my garden
and lawn. You arrive when spring
rains so steadily, and thrive
in the cool April air.

You are everlasting and everlasting.
Out living all others, to return
from tiny seeds,sown in the damp
cool earth, to return next year,

henbit again and again and again.