Sample poems from Monica Barron's PRAIRIE ARCHITECTURE
- Category: Excerpts from Our Books
- Published: Monday, 13 January 2020 06:45
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Why We Need Ponds
To break the monotony of crops
we need ponds to be, on our home places,
the eyes that never close
as their grass lashes go to seed.
To collect what clouds drop
we need ponds, to let rain run
into rills, to let
grasses grow on their banks so that
rills don’t become runnels,
so that snow melts and sinks in
as few things do.
We need ponds to let all waters
have a destination part of a cycle.
We need ponds to teach us patience.
When the water we prepared for doesn’t come
we will have time to build a reef
the water rises and algae grows to cover
to stock the basin with fish and imagine them
trance-like with their lidless eyes and slight
correcting motions in the reef.
one day the pond will have become
a sanctuary for mating dragonflies
and coyotes tired of wandering the sandy beds
of old, high-walled creeks.
After such an effort
what might we become?
After changing the map
moving the horizon
of a place whose every dip
and roll every living
being thought it knew?
Once we have changed the weather
because it’s not humid
enough in Greentop in August,
after changing the soundscape
so the whippoorwills and bluebirds
have migrating companions,
on the day the trees finally
see themselves in the pond’s
mirror may we be
the reflection that fractures when
something lands on the pond’s
placid surface breaking us
into a loving eye,
an awakened ear,
an open hand.
Meditation from West of the River [first two of seven linked sonnets]
The house lights up, the doors and windows open,
we saw each other over the wreckage of dinner—
trout spines, candles burned to sockets,
red tulips doing backbends in a vase.
It was simple to motion you into the other room,
to sit in an armchair, begin a conversation
while the dogs howled up and down the alley
warning us away from our intentions.
I understood what it meant when you rose from your chair,
crossed the room, ran your hands through my hair.
I followed you back to the darkened kitchen,
put a hand on your shoulder to make you turn around.
As I closed my eyes to kiss you I was aware
of the gray the light was catching in your hair.
The light that caught the gray in your hair
was being caught by the crest of every wave,
tossed in a heap on the glistening shoals at our feet.
When I was a girl I walked this beach for miles,
waded into the waist-high waves to cool
my sun-burned skin. In pictures of that time
life looks uncluttered, the backdrop always a narrow
finger of land. Say what you want about memory,
it can be so clean. I remember us on the edge
of a pier while the sun slipped into the lake and the water
beat against the pilings. I was thinking a heart
could hold heat like sand after a sunset.
I was on the verge of trying to tell you this
when the sky began to darken, the sand turn cold.
All day I live beneath
a canopy of oak and pine.
Bird-song, rain, and light filter through.
At sunset I walk down
to the meadow to holler my truths
to the blue, blue distant hills.
The wind blows them back.
Days full of light
shortening ever so slightly.
A yellow flower changes
to a dark green phallus.
Night comes earlier
beneath these trees.
I row my dinghy out
onto open water to buy
myself some time.
I would have guessed tonight
would be clear: clouds the color
of rhubarb, clean wind crossing
the meadow. But winds have a way
of changing. The leaves turn
their silver undersides to me,
my grandmother’s favorite sign
of rain. I know: we lose some,
we lose some.