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 tale 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 preserve in my life’s mythology.
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 into Jerusalem.
Snatches of lullabies from a distant long ago room
Strains of the old rugged cross from dusty hymnals
Or maybe loud mellencamp from a car radio
Thumping across dirt roads
I never know if its real
Or made up
The sound of tires on the singing asphalt
Or the growl of gravel
Humming harmonies rising in clouds of dust
They’re the songs of wandering angels
Sixteen miles from the Arkansas line,
Following the roads through hills and hollows
In the Missouri moonshine,
We are riding tonight on our dreams
And the sound of rivers rushing,
Thru the thick Ozark night.
The stars dance in their own constellations-
Brightwater and Big Sugar Creek
Spin with the Seven Sisters
And Orion as he makes his tracks
Across the thick starry Ozark night.
Mists rise from the deep hollows
Mixing with melody and woodsmoke
As the miles harmonize
Across spring creeks and ancient stone,
We sing of the thick Ozark night
Under the misty Missouri moonshine.
Sixteen miles more, we are flying low and fast.
Ridge running high and bright,
Down to deep hollows low and dark,
Chasing our dreams across the thick Ozark night
Under the rising Missouri moonshine.
A stone is made smooth
with the least bit of pressure,
a constant and maybe thoughtless rubbing
between thumb and forefinger.
As tarnish from a piece of old silver,
maybe your grandmother’s knife made bright,
Or the wind’s insistence against snowcapped mountains
Or water-made canyons
Of deep hollows, fern filled and green,
Hiding the shy deer and red fox den.
I keep that pressure steady-
Rubbing the memories deep into my skin.
Tattooing the years tears on the lines of my face
Until I see your eyes
Look into mine
From the bathroom mirror
I found that thing which had been lost.
Though to be honest,
I hadn’t realized it was lost.
I had not thought of it in the least
I have no idea how long.
But there it was-
in all its glory.
The thing that had been lost
In my hand.
It was now remembered.
A memory attached.
To always be that thing
that had been lost,
(The amygdala and hippocampus
receive the information
from the olfactory bulb
before routing it to the thalamus,
already conjuring memories
before awareness of the scent
is formed in the conscious mind.)
Four eggs perch in my grandmother’s bowl
among the fragrant tangerines,
waiting to take a crack into the citrus-y batter
where the luscious dates await.
The air is scented with oranges
and roasting pecans,
the fragrance of a kitchen
that no longer exists.
*** This poem was written last year as one of a series of angel poems. I thought I would bring all of my angel poems to you this Christmas season as I listen for the sound of their wings and to hear the message “Fear not”.
Wresting the darkness from my thoughts,
I release it to the morning shadows
under the fragrant cedar boughs,
dripping with rain and cloud.
Storing up these scents
of honeysuckle and sweet grass,
that fishy watery smell
when the wind is off the cove,
the resinous incense of cedar-
I catalogue them in my book of memory,
tacked down neatly
with those tiny black triangles
from the pages of old photo albums.
So when I grow restless with the sea breeze-
its salted scent of sun on my skin-
I will open my book
and release my memories
of hill and hollow.