San Juans by Dede Cummings
From here she can see no islands, only a mountain beyond water
mostly purple-black and defying the orange-spreading sky.
Beginning a new day with a fragment of a dream, she moves
around the garden — a space for the plant, or imprint for the seed.
She throws stones over the fence, the sun-warmed crescents rest
upon the crusty soil, except for a circled one which she tucks away.
Transparent green leaves appear poised below a climbing trellis
on which last year’s scorched vines cling.
This morning she begins to watch for the orcas.
Her eyes know the spot as if by heart from a dream:
the black and white bodies lean and glistening,
the splash she thought she heard in the dream—
she awakens to her body erect and taut like a fishing line.
A funnel kite dances around the flagpole like in a childhood game.
Twisting her plaid uniform skirt around her legs, in the schoolyard,
she thinks of the nuns in their dusty habits, clamoring penguin-like;
their eyes like moons when she tells them her mother is pregnant again.
She remembers the time she stole down the hallway of their cloister
and peered into the simple room of Mother Calvo — a cross, a bed, a pew.
She hears the whispered hush of their prayers; gold wedding bands
on their fingers spinning against the dark robes.
She wonders if there really is a child within her now: the fruit
of Mary’s womb — a child made in Seattle while saying good-bye —
now a bump in her stomach; a seed that has wintered over,
buried in the uterine furrow of blood and bone.
The wind jerks the kite and it slaps against the pole.
Frail plants curl over the turned earth. During her morning walk
she has seen bright yellow skunk cabbage
on this, the first day of Spring.
One golden eagle flies low across a rabbit field, a red tail hawk
soars above a rusted truck the color of dead leaves and mud.
As swallows argue around a nest left over from last year, she shovels,
turns and digs, before the sweet and melancholy smell of rain.
About the author:
Dede Cummings is a writer and poet. Her work has been published in Mademoiselle, The Lake, InQuire, Vending Machine Press and Connotation Press. She was a Discover/The Nation poetry semi-finalist. She is a published author of six nonfiction health and organic lifestyle titles and is currently at work on a creative nonfiction collection of linked stories called “Spin Cycle.”
Dede lives in West Brattleboro, Vermont where she runs a home office for the startup greenwriterspress
“Beginning a new day with a fragment of a dream” – so well conveyed! And I love the precision and alive feeling of the language – “the wind jerks the kite and it slaps against the pole”; “the sweet and melancholy smell of rain”.
Mike, I am overjoyed to be published by you and part of the VMP community! I hope to work on some more poems—reworking some old ones, too—to send you. Thanks!
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Reblogged this on DC Design and commented:
Pretty happy to have a poem published today! I’ve been working on this for twenty years, off and on. I dedicate it to my dear friend, Annie Philbrick, whose generosity and spirit (not to mention my first host to the San Juan islands!) has been so dear to me. And also a big shoutout to my friend, colleague, mentor, editor, collaborator, and Gateless Writers founder, Suzanne D. Kingsbury for teaching me a new way to write and “unteach” the old! Vending MachinePress is the publisher, and my editor is Mike Lafontaine. Thanks to my blog readers, too!