Oct/Nov 2015 Poetry

Three Poems

by Margaret Holley

Image courtesy of NASA and the University of Arizona

Image courtesy of NASA and the University of Arizona

Sonoita Inn Serenade

Here is the quiet of sleeping horses,
their walnut flanks curried by moonlight,
repose of ranches quilting the foothills,

vineyards bubbling rain into grapes,
and the hush of Highway 83 spilling space
and dream into its nearly empty crossing

of Route 82, where we have come
to rest for one night among slopes made
by a god in love with hips and thighs.

Years ago, my father sent me a news
clipping titled "The Sound of Silence"
on the virtues of not saying too much,

the magic of a few minutes' rest from
all the chatter and noise. Perhaps it was
his kind of unspoken apology for not

being a great talker. Tonight I listen
past crickets into the stillness that holds
him now, the close and distant quietness

from which comes the music he loved,
that is itself music, the first lullaby,
the mother of lullabies.


We Have a Little Mozart

on the office radio, a 92º forecast for Phoenix
today, and about six hours to get 72 letters out.
We have a photo of Christopher lying in bed

with his week-old daughter asleep on his chest,
her fist closed on the tip of his thumb.
It is snowing there in Pennsylvania.

We have a phone call for Carrol, actually a stream
of calls, and some bills and a Fed Ex for me.
We have a mental picture of Sondra

with her one month old grandson asleep
and light snow falling in eastern Massachusetts.
We have a mail merge rolling along here,

the envelopes piling up alphabetically.
We have 90º outside now but 76º in the office.
We have a turkey sandwich on the desk

and some fruit salad with a plastic fork in it.
There is deep snow today in Delaware,
where three-week-old Joshua sleeps,

while Cara works at the kitchen table,
and the windows are frosted halfway up.
Of the 72 letters, some are simple thank you's,

some need donation cards enclosed,
and some have to mention committee work,
so we have another mail merge going

with a medley of templates and improvisations.
But today this merging seems to move along
smoothly too—so how lucky am I?

Now we have a little Chopin,
some Preludes, I think, perfect for babies
sleeping warm in the snow.


I See My Long Dead Mother in the Shop 'n Save

Fifty years gone, and yet here she is,
exactly her profile, every wave and curl
in place, navy cardigan over her trim figure,

sleeves pushed up to the elbows as usual,
a plastic bag dangling from her fingers,
as she leaves the checkout lane and pauses

to chat with two other women,
every cell in me quivers on high alert,
my breath leaps headlong over the barricade

of Vidalia onions and brown baking potatoes,
the prison of fresh produce, a teenage
soul scrambles easily over Himalayas

of decades and frozen finalities,
teeters on the edge of two worlds till
I'm clear out of my mind for five seconds

of pure joy, thin wedge of a scream
muted by speechless amazement to see her
here, just looking young and happy,

when suddenly she laughs, turns toward
the heavy Exit door, and walks out
into the sunshine of mortal day.


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