Jan/Feb 2018 Poetry

Two Poems

by Sharon Fagan McDermott

Textile Photo Art by Jeffrey Trespel

Textile Photo Art by Jeffrey Trespel

Short Takes

Bubbling underground pipe. Blue
snow on nasturtiums in early
November. They melt into
a green almost pewter.
And the neighbor stops by to
acknowledge the end
of these prodigious
suns in the grass.

Every night before my
son's birthday, I would stay
up late, hide his gifts,
create a booklet
of rhyming clues and
clumsy illustrations.
He'd wake up gleeful,
reaching for it, off
to his treasure hunt.
This May, he hid the gifts,
and rhymed the clues
for his own son,
turning three.

The earth we love traffics in spirits.
Turn over any rock,
check your peripheral vision
in woodlands.

between gravestones
a wild reclamation
scarlet sumacs, poison ivy
turned tangerine. graffiti
florid on the old brick walls.

The language of cities:
gyre and spin on churning gears
rivers muck the noontime skies gray,
barge-slow through the locks.

I have met two beloved ghosts
in my life—my grandmother
who chided me, as I lay
in bed grieving her loss (and
cursing her God.) And my
younger brother who
when I asked out loud
why I still felt him so
vividly, turned on my
two flashlights in the tent
then turned them off
again. These are not stories
I tell very often.

Today I am in my body
all day. Ankles
wonky on the uneven
hillside. Face
toward the seventeen
degree sunrise—happy
and so cold.

We wrapped up
The Odyssey yesterday.
18 teenagers and me.
Feasting on donuts,
and chocolate chip
cookies. The boy who
dressed as Odysseus'
sacrificial ram raised
his cup of Sprite to toast
Zeus. He spoke only
in "baa's."

For one million poems
I have been trying to tell you
how lonely I am. My writing
does not always speak
well. No gods left to blame.

That stranger's eyes are filled with ghosts.
He is exhausted. Sad.
dimished against the last light.

That woman's baby
drools and chews
the end of his shirt.
When I hide my face in my
hands; he knows
this game, laughs
before I reveal myself.

What I Thought Love Was
His hand in my black hair
delicately seeking
the ladybug lost there,
offering her to my outstretched
hand, watching me, grinning
as I watched her crack wings
wide and float off toward
an easier sky.


After the Diagnosis

All the subtraction we do here,
reading the dates on the gravestones.

It's June, I muck around in dirt,
plant my million bells, citrus as any blood

orange, a bright border which ants
will travel at great cost sometimes,

like all living things, to find themselves
somewhere else, somewhere kinder.


In the graveyard, Allan looks for turtles,
traces the pond's circumference

scaring red-winged blackbirds
from the cattails. Turtles,

those hard-boxed geometries,
(and symbols of immortality)

are nowhere, not sunning
themselves on logs or pond's edge.

We wander the old cemetery. Allan coughs,
checks overhead: the thunderclouds

are gathering. My tumors have shrunk
for now,
he says. Buys me a little more time.

Frogs startle, a plopping chorus line
from shore and he and I laugh each time;

it doesn't get old. Though Maureen,
my sister, Allan's wife, stops suddenly

and stares into the water, her face
worn silver as thin ice. Thunder rumbles,

closer now, in this summer of unending rain.
Maureen is still a rippling face upon the pond.

And beyond, the waterlilies gape,
petals blown wide.


Previous Piece Next Piece