Jan/Feb 2016 Poetry

Two Poems

by Marjorie Mir

Artwork by Marie Massey

Artwork by Marie Massey

Winter Solstice

Always we have found ways
to tame the darkness;
fire once, throwing shadows,
merging body shapes
against the walls of caves,

candles telling the traveler,
the visitor, the returning child
we are here, someone is here
to urge you in,

lamplight, generous, unstinting
filling the room,
turning windows to mirrors,
doubling, affirming.

Always we have found a way
against cold.
Not here, we have said,
not here where we are.

A woman looks up from her book
to read his face,
correspondent, answering,
returns to the lamplit page.


A Genealogy Surmised

Whose hand was this
before it was mine?
My mother's? Her mother's?
Someone's none of us could know?
Holding what?

A pen unlike this one,
shaping a far different script;
an infant's face,
needle, trowel, comb,
another hand,
wedding its owner's
cells and history
to make the continuity.

These, I discover, are not random details,
by no means this-or-that.
They are asking to be recognized,
held up, given weight.

Let us allow an early May,
that rarity, a clear mid-morning, 1822,
village of Holbeton, Devon.
She is planting lupine seeds
in a patch of cottage garden.

Her cousin, on army home-leave
arrives unannounced with a friend.
She stands up to greet them
still holding the trowel.

The pen, for the months
that passed between
that meeting and the next,
amends the distances:
from Holbeton to army posts,
Benares, Darjeeling, Singapore.

The needle enters the story
embroidering her wedding dress,
the infant a year after that.
And the comb, his first gift to her,
lacquerware the blue of lupines,
is worn on each anniversary,
until it is lost at a party,
appearing again only now.


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