Marjorie Power – Five Poems
The arch stands by itself,
an entrance to nowhere.
Our guide’s best guess:
it must have been moved
from elsewhere in Granada.
Via this giant keyhole, a green thicket.
Via the thicket, birdsong.
Via birdsong, the gift of silence.
Via the first snow, lo how a rose.
Via the rose, the birth of Christ.
Via his death, the unwieldy love.
Via such spillage, the new rules.
The setting sail for, the laying claim to,
the closing in, the forcing out.
Diaspora. Longing for return.
Longing. A tour bus.
Steep hills filled with olive trees
and vineyards and small
gone-to-ruin dwellings of stone.
Weighty gold crowns
encrusted with gems
for the Virgin to wear
during Holy Week.
Bulls raised like pets –
to quench blood thirst.
This evening we’re in Arcos de la Frontera
sipping wine with new friends
in the warm spring air.
A dozen tiny birds party
near our hotel balcony.
Whoever heard of birds
staying up this late.
Researching Colorado Railroads
A man at the counter laughs a laugh
you’d hear in The Stockman’s Bar.
for a book Dave read.
The librarian, jolly
in Crayola, rubber-stamps
his find. Out he clomps
to his high clearance vehicle.
A mother of two spills in with four
who pile like puppies on the librarian
who laughs a laugh you’d hear for a mile.
Three computers, three users
plus a next-in-line. And look
at this! A card catalog –
revered elder, rich silence,
trunk of an old tree.
Across the street
stands an old stone house,
new roof designed
to help snow slide.
In the side yard slim
gold aspens shimmer
lit by late afternoon sun.
Half the leaves
Each bare branch
a delicate inscription
on the sky.
Preparing to market our last house
we sort mugs, linens, boots, books,
hooks in little plastic drawers
nesting bowls and winter coats.
We choose which furniture to sell –
trestle table, fairy tale bed. We circle
through each carousel of tiny photos
meant to be seen projected large
on a bleach-white screen
left at Goodwill before we moved here.
Left with its partner, that machine whose whir
meant all’s right with the world.
My husband cranes his neck. He squints.
Scenes we’ve selected appear on his device.
He clones them in a blink and each flies off.
They return, oddly colored, in fat envelopes.
Ready for albums to place solidly
on the table where grandchildren sit.
Oil Painting by My Neighbor
Clinging to a bare slope,
two Douglas firs –
one with skimpy trunk
and drastic lean,
one almost upright.
Both branchless on one side.
The rest of the painting is
sky: palest blue,
full of humidity
my neighbor must have bottled near the coast
where we each grew up –
hot wet gauzy air
that would never
hang in the land
of Douglas fir.
Waking in Denver
When a city’s a mile high
the sun does not rise but jumps
straight out of his deep black bed,
spreads his chest, strides forth
into the wide display –
ash trees, concrete, stucco, bungalows, old
brick, blue spruce, mansions, glass
skyscrapers, stadiums, cottonwoods,
grassy parkways ready for the day’s roll.
The just-risen sun flips light switches
everywhere and all at once.
The sun wears cowboy boots.
The sun collects hats.
but also a fedora
for afternoon thunderstorms
when he suddenly skips town
in dance shoes from Buenos Aires.
Author’s Statement on Beauty
The Navajo have a blessing that includes this refrain: “I walk with beauty before me. I walk with beauty behind me. I walk with beauty below me. I walk with beauty around me. My words will be beautiful.” As it is for the Navajo, so must it be for the poet in any language, any culture. Beauty is what startles us with delight at being alive and what draws us through our pain and difficulty, into a place of peace, whether or not the pain is ever gone. Beauty is humility made manifest. We see it in the attentiveness of the good listener. We see it in poetry and art of all kinds, even if the creator has an enormous ego, when the resulting creation clearly required not only talent, but humility in the face of its subject.
Marjorie Power’s poetry appears in her collection, Seven Parts Woman, WordTech Editions, 2016, and in six chapbooks from small presses: Birds on Discovery Island, Main Street Rag Publishing Company; Faith in the Color Turquoise, Pudding House; and others.