A Poetry Special
Douglas Lake Legand
By Donna Doyle
We are taking the long way home,
road I have had no reason to travel
since my great grandfather died, leaving
his lakefront cabin, innocently, to drunken grandsons
who discussed property value, mournfully,
while he lay as quiet in his casket as he lived in his life.
Nothing but feeling looks familiar, so I describe
places that can no longer be seen.
Small store, minnow-filled soda cooler out front,
inside, hot hamburgers served slippery with mayonnaise,
spinning on red vinyl barstools.
A few miles further the cabin,
windowsills lined with old glass bottles, feathers,
rocks, arrowheads and driftwood,
walls papered with carefully clipped National Geographic photos,
rows of recycled milk cartons containing hooks, lures and floats
he did not need for I had seen him kneel on the dock,
catch a fast-flopping catfish bare-handed,
breath slow and steady like a line cast far out over water.
From this view, everything swallows me whole,
lake landscape echoing his name for me -- sister, sister -
and, I am a fish, lifted by my great-grandfather's hands,
held high, gills fanning fruitlessly, until your arms
pull me close, returning me, slowly, to water.
By Donna Doyle
There are many paths.
Here by water's edge goldenrod bows,
bees suck some last sweetness,
your dog pants like a tired preacher.
When Canada geese fly overhead,
their shadow touching your shoulder
fills you with something you waited for
all your life in childhood churches.
Stray hymns and verses hum in your head,
words heavy with sorrow, surrender and following.
You do not know how souls can be scheduled
for revival and homecoming,
why yours rose up suddenly in geese shadow.
Many are called, few are chosen.
If you were chosen for anything it is for this:
Following your dog's lead.
Loving what cannot be named.
Shaking the Linens
By Laura Still
Mammaw didn't just
make the beds,
all the sheets came off
and we snapped them between us,
the cool air
easing through the screens
with morning sounds
of chickens and sniffing hounds
prowling for breakfast scraps.
I hear the whip, smell
line-dried white cotton
as I pull the comforter
over the dark crumpled Percale
of my own guilty bed
of dust gossip
in nasty whispers
By Marybeth Boyanton
Ocular aberration or some trick
of light, that horizon stuns: chance
deception, raw color smack on blue!
A crimson flame of trees burns bold,
but without smoke or circumstance.
No haze, no mythic mists impede
this rare brilliance and immediacy,
and what cerulean! Surely only autumn
or Cezanne would dare paint the sky
with such outrageous objectivity!
Oh bright clarity, so sharp the eye
seems pierced-one second vivifies
in glinting, hard-edged glory the
tinctured evidence of what just was,
just what the month ahead belies.
Blood and copper slash the line
between the fading earth and space,
to mark the ritual red-letting that's
now come, announce the year's arterial
drain, the greying and the loss of grace.
What's left? Dark's already rolling in.
It's gone now, but that instant held it all-
and bated breath. At the pivot point,
late afternoon atmospherics arrayed
in valediction the full vivacity of fall.
By Judy Loest
An acorn, missing its cap, falls,
dull click to the dry hard ground, rolls
in my hand, light as a pearl, satin smooth
as varnished mahogany and perfectly round
but for pointed nib, pale button of cork stuffed
in its crown like an eraser worn down. This nut
this autumn meat, compact, dense and portable
as a prayer can fill a pocket of hope, break
open, sing like the sound of a word
as it falls on the page like a seed
to the earth, take root,
Copyright © The Southerner 2000.