John C. Mannone – Four Poems
At Carson and Winnifred
On Thanksgiving Day
I step off the Orange Line trolley,
glance at my black watch, rush
to the blue Honda four blocks away.
In long lines Crepe Myrtles stand
at attention listening to my complaints,
arms stretched out, console me with smiles
of xanthophylls. One holds in its hands
clusters of copper, scarlet; another, gold.
Treasures carpet my feet, dropped soft
as morning rain. In the same selflessness,
these trees opened their palms to offer
their colors back to the Sun who gave them.
This day, the air is moistened with diamond
droplets letting the light through, broken
in thanksgiving, extending its rainbow before me.
There’s a field of yellow stars in a galaxy
of grass outside my kitchen window—
a looking-glass into the past when my sister and I
were Momma’s little stars.
Standing on the other side of her own windowpane,
she’d watch us swish through all those sunbursts
perched on slender shafts, translucent
with shades of aphid-green, and ciliated all the way
to the ground: fleshy stems nestled among broad
blades serrated and deeply colored as the forest.
We plucked the tender ones, filled brown paper bags
until they bulged with dandelion leaves. Some flowers
changed their fragrant gold canopy to a lattice
full of celestial seeds—globes bursting into supernovas
as we plucked the leaves—remnants fading into dirt
black sky under grass. We would hear Momma
sing altos of Rigoletto or Pagliacci as if she were
a soprano trying to shatter glass. When we came in
and handed her the bounty, she’d rinse, dry, and sift
each leaf, culling out the blemished ones. I remember
the sizzling olive oil-and-garlic ooze that infused
into star leaves—dandelions surrendering sweetness,
along with the bitter, in the iron pan, in spattering
red sauce, then going limp as their atoms spread
into tomorrow. I still look through that window
from my universe to hers.
I cannot see icicles’ cold any more
than I can hear heat or taste sound,
smell faint rainbows or touch scents
of dianthus. Yet, the hot pulsation
of your heart, the baby breath taste
of your lips, a melody of whispers,
the gardenia in your hair, the silk
of your breasts, and the hazel green
mosaic of your eyes—these I knew.
Now, I know that look and can see
the bitter wind.
The way clouds stencil the Appalachian skies
Like wisps of angels
The blazing sun disrobing its alate splendor
In lavender and gold, quenched in a mountain lake
The hourglass wings—remnant of a dying star
Whose white dwarf heart embers the dark
That swirling in my center when the day-glow of spun light
Sifts through your hair when you drift to me within a kiss’ reach
Our souls lofted beyond the crystal light, our wings folded
Into each other in metamorphosis
Our spirits returning on wings resting on oyamel firs,
Prayers on our lips
Showers of cherry blossoms perfuming air
Before lifting into the warm wind
And scattering all over the world, touching
Everyone, as if grace fluttering from the hand of God
Author’s Statement on Beauty
I see beauty in everything. It’s easy for the natural world to bear witness to this: the smell of rain, a bejeweled night sky, the way a fallen leaf curls on the ground. Even the physics of nature displays its beauty: the diffraction of waves on a rippled lake, the august sunset colors of a Rayleigh-scattered sky, the photochemistry of fireflies flashing their yellow green luciferin. But what about tragedy? Where is the beauty in that? Perhaps a paraphrasing the Book of Lamentations will help: Though there’s sorrow through the night, joy comes in the morning. There is beauty even in death because I believe in life.
John C. Mannone has published in venues such as Gyroscope Review, New England Journal of Medicine, Inscape Literary Journal, Windhover and Baltimore Review. He’s been awarded a 2016 Weymouth Center for the Arts & Humanities writing residency and has two literary poetry collections, including one on disability, Disabled Monsters (The Linnet’s Wings Press, Dec 2015) featured at the 28th Southern Festival of Books. He edits poetry for Silver Blade and Abyss & Apex and he’s a college professor of physics in east Tennessee. More at: jcmannone.wordpress.com.