Cordelia M. Hanemann – Three Poems


 My Palo Dura Canyon

Its red hills are part of the flat lands
where the grass has burned off:

small slit in a spare landscape,
ruby-jewel in a desert,
cauldron of bubbling fire colors.

Weather goes over it.
Wind scores chasm walls,
flutes through dry pinon
—ancient, wizened, and gnarled—
makes eerie music.

Cowpaths wind round
sharp, high ledges,
steep earth banks,
a careless dry well
with no bottom
littered with cow carcasses:
hollow bones
vacant eye-sockets
laughing teeth
mocking holes
where red ants crawl,
flowers creep—

Badlands roll on and on,
rumbling darkly
in reds, ochres, black,
crimson canyon that promises
pigments for paints,
clay for vessels,
searing heat.

Dawn: A Memorial

If you could come stealthily
as wind stirs tree leaves,
you might hear the sorrow
in my heart, glimpse
your absence in my house.

If you would come subtly
as rainy dew, you might find
me wakeful, looking still
for what has been lost.

Perhaps, should you come,
we might sit again together
on the porch steps, silent
as breath, awaiting
the scent of new day.


we watch them spring from nests
a heady swath of wing still wet
behind the ears (if fledglings
have ears) miniscule finches
in fleet arcs sail away to specks

we never know what fate
portends unless it’s they
who return to this small
corner of our universe
to procreate more finches

but this year doves have taken
their place more cautious though
not so skittish as finches two biddies
clamor for dinner totter larger
than life on the edge of their aerie
under the porch eaves with heavy
tentative leap make a low limb

horizons filter through leafy
patterns one hop inevitably leads
to another and surely they too
will surge one last time
that takes them up and up

Author’s Statement on Beauty

Beauty–a relationship between us and the universe–is a kind of harmony that resonates with positive energy. It derives from the gifts of the universe and the gifts we give back. Beauty in its complexity moves us to celebrate life in its vagaries; its simplicity and resonant harmony enables delight and understanding, our making peace, our moving forward.

Beauty is where we stand when we need to take the next step; it’s our solid ground: it’s all the strings of the violin tuned and played; the collusion of color, line, balance, proportion; composition that speaks for and to the soul, that captures deep feeling; words weighed and placed–cadence, melody, voice, meaning; gestures of the dance: all–expressive and personal and universal.

Beauty is art–the art of craft, the art of living, the art of noticing, of participating, of being present. Yet, beauty is ELUSIVE because an item of beauty or a moment of beauty for you may not be the same for me, but whatever form beauty takes, we are moved by it, touched by it; it speaks to us on the deepest most human of levels. Beauty is what we live for–order out of chaos, understanding from pain, joy from delight, love, a kind of harmony.

For me at this moment: beauty is
flow of line, perfection of color, design,
words well-chosen,
light sparkling through trees,
the smell of the ocean or a good gumbo,
the warm body of my grandson snuggling beside me while he reads Harry Potter,
the loneliness I feel at the loss of my husband,
the joy I know at having the freedom to be my own person,
my humility at all my limitations, my pride in my accomplishments,
my hope for the future.

I feel I need a poem or a song or a dance or a painting to best tell myself and you what beauty is–but I know it when I encounter it. It resonates. It enriches me.


A native of Southwest Louisiana, but the daughter of an army officer and diplomat, Cordelia has lived in Japan and London as well as in the US. Professor emerita retired, she spends her time gardening, taking classes in art and philosophy, hanging out with friends and family, writing poetry, painting, cooking, eating, and celebrating the gifts of the universe. Her work has appeared in numerous journals, including Southwest Review and Third Wednesday Magazine; anthologies, most recently The Well-Versed Reader and up-coming, Heron Clan IV; and in her own chapbook, Through a Glass Darkly. She was recently the featured poet for Negative Capability Press, and The Strand Project presented a monologue she wrote for performance. A practicing artist and writer in Raleigh, North Carolina, she is now working on a first novel, about her roots in Cajun Louisiana.