Still Life Red Canna
You left Stieglitz for six months
every year, living in Abiqui
with your chow dogs only.
You painted the landscape outside
your house: the badlands, the bones,
the hills, your door 17 times,
its red more alive than the Canna lily.
Sometimes I imagine us sipping tea
from the cups of red lilies, your witch eyes
seeing inside me, Write anything
you want, but do it with passion,
precision, telling secrets
men believe only they possess.
When you grew old, eyesight failing,
you let in a young potter to care
for your house. You arranged shows
for him. He taught you how
to throw pots, to see with your hands.
I read that if you saw something
you liked you slipped it in your pocket.
You stole this man. You felt
an austere passion: the red petals
of the lily, smooth feathers
hiding music that makes
holes in the sky.
Pawley’s Island Seascape
The decorator shakes her head.
I can’t fix this plain Jane.
The blues don’t match: the sky
washes out the deep aqua sea.
The greens don’t blend: Palm trees
overshadow the faded dune grass.
The creamy shells disappear
in the gold and rocky sand.
This will never do. She purses
her lips, sighs in despair
stares at the sky, the sea,
and hypnotized by the swish
of waves, lies down in the hammock,
while blues and greens run amok on the beach.
Star Crossed Lovers
Even as she writes this, she sees
you walking on the Camino Del Monte Cristo
hears the sounds of Spanish so foreign
but certainly not to you: shoulders thrown back,
head cocked to the mountains, but eyes
on a street game. Por favor Senor?
You pick up the ball, toss it to the kid,
wishing you could play instead of sprawling
in front of the TV, whooping and hollering
for the Red Sox. Only during the commercials,
only when your beer is emptied do you lift
your head from an antimacassar on the back
of your chair only then do you glance
at your shelves, pick up a rock, her rock,
and remember when you cracked the geode
finding at its center, a fossil, a star.
The last time she saw you
was like the space between time zones,
when two people float toward each other
but don’t know night from day.
She told you she did not want
to be a collectible, not even a star fossil,
but even as she said that, she wanted
to fold you into a book, to be hidden
in some dark corner of a library
under some arcane topic from another
era like antimacassar. Even then,
you would walk off, without a glance,
even then you would walk off wearing
only star-crocheted lace on your head.
Civilized at last
According to legend, Romulus and Remus were twins abandoned by their mother and nursed by a wolf until found by a shepherd who raised them. When older, they decided to build a city on the spot where the wolf had found them. They quarreled over the site. One wanted one place and the other said, this one! Romulus won and so Rome was built on his hill and named after him. But this is legend and Rome was not built in a day.
I put a photo of the twins on Facebook,
eight months old Paolo scowling Sylvia smiling
53 Likes so cute so lucky congrats.
At ten months Paolo devours a big bowl of pasta
Lily nibbles she’s a lovely bird big eyes tiny mouth
one curl on top a cockatoo
Sylvia could balance on a branch singing the high notes
but swings in her jump seat
Paolo teeter totters falls forward lets out a wolf yowl.
Sylvia’s happy with Cheerios
Paolo hungry and teething gnaws
my finger like a juicy rib.
At the beach they notice the other grab and pull
not property not hills
only a pail and red shovel.
I post a video of the brawl on Facebook
screech, howl, screech
so cute, so typical, wait ’til they have to share the Ipad
A bird and beast raised by humans
They’ll never fight over hills in Italy
never be Romulus and Remus
those brothers saved by wolves.
These twins? ordinary kids tagging
their castles with beach glass
destroying moats with one sweep of their hands.
Soon we’ll tame them use your words
when they bite screech push yowl
throwing their heads back into the wild.
On Facebook Friends will see them strapped
into a double stroller blinders on either side
53 Likes so cute so lucky grown up at last.
Mare Leonard’s work has appeared most recently in A Rat’s Ass, Perfume River, The Courtship of Wind, Bindweed, Forage, New Verse News, The Chronogram and Communicator’s League She lives in an old school house overlooking the Rondout Creek. Away from her own personal blackboard, she teaches writing workshops for all ages through the Institute for Writing and Thinking and the MAT program at Bard College.