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Three Poems by Jeanie Thompson and "To an Outdoor Wedding" by Kathleen Driskell

Three Poems from The Seasons Bear Us by Jeanie Thompson --published by River City Publishing Company

On a Bank of the Tennessee

Late August

While the sun stained

the still river blood-red

as a tapped vein,

I dragged the canoe onto shore,

and with afternoon my accomplice,

studied plunder. Sifted loose

by winter rain, the past

uncovered itself

by shard and broken point,

by flint worked

to an almost useful shape.

 

Lifting a black clay fragment

I traced the pattern etched there,

felt the electric pulse

of human touch.

The pile of contraband

in the stern grew: scraper,

cooking rock, bird point,

reminders that

water could not claim

forms humans made:

vessels someone shaped

and learned to shatter.

 

 

 

Woman, Alone in October

 

There, in October’s last unraveling,

            she coveted the subtle fabric

                        woven of silver-shot pine.

                                       Across her table, the afternoon

                                                      light among lesser lights

 

 

until there was a fine threading

       like a symphony of leaves underwater.

               She wanted to enter the light’s song

                        as it deepened the dogwood’s blush,

                                        learn the music of the sycamore’s

 

 

peeling branches, parting and unparting before her

              to know a wiser rhythm: warp of heart’s blood

                            weft of heart’s sinew:

                                        how they joined, how they might become

                                                      a coverlet to warm her.

 


Cornbread

No one here

but you and me and perfect

cornbread, steaming

 

in its iron skillet.

On the stove beside it, turnip

greens bubble, essential

 

to such union.

No other human,

just dog and woman

 

on Sunday night, alone.

I’ve proven the theorem

again, equation of

 

salt, baking soda, and powder

into one cup of meal, one

egg, and the buttermilk

 

I sniff, still okay five days past,

it’s tangier, just right.

Here’s the tricky part: heat

 

shortening in the skillet

as the oven temperature rises.

Be patient – work slowly –

 

and when the grease is hot, it will

bind the mixture, make the crisp

coat firm. Sixteen minutes

 

and it’s turned out like a dancer

on the green ceramic plate.

You get the first bite.

 

I kneel and pull apart the thin

wedge I’ve cut for you.

Just a dog.

 

Eye to eye,

remember when someone

told the puppies to hush?

 

Did you catch

a steaming ball of corn dough

in your dream?

 

Lick my fingers – it’s that good.

When he returns –

his hand, too.

 

Poem by Kathleen Driskell--published in The Southern Review, Spring 2005

To the Outdoor Wedding

All come, forgive, and bless the dogmatic over-ripe bride
who insists she will be married in the garden
of her dead mother, though the guests and wedding party
hiss and shiver as the light rain turns unrepentantly
to pelting ice. All rise, and love the narrow bridesmaids,
numb and under-dressed in lavender slivers of spaghetti strap,
and listen to their teeth shatter as they scurry down
the aisle, drawn to the collective body heat
of the groomsmen and minister shifting from foot
to foot under the wavering trellis of altar. Praise
the wind picking up mightily, and the groom, unsteady
and sallow, who does not beam when she appears
in blown splendor on her father's arm-and the guests
who are wet-faced, their heads bowed down
to keep the sleet from stinging. It is the bride, prayer-
ful and confident in her white faith, we have to thank
when a gust picks up and wraps her long veil three times
around her father's head, shrouding him from the booming
garden tent about to unpluck itself from the soggy ground.
Who else but her to be thankful to when instead of the tent,
her veil snaps free from the father's flailing and lifts high,
then thrashes away over the Indiana cornfields, just now
brilliant in their new spring greening-the green shine,
the sumptuous periwinkle sky, the brilliant white strata
folding into itself, and dropping its knot-but wait! Again
the wind sends it sailing and the guests, heads up now,
mouths open in collected prayer of ah and ah as the veil
transforms into a bucking Chinese dragon, taking away
all that is old, folding, dancing off and far. The guests
gather themselves and offer the warm utterance
ooh when from the thawing and newly planted fields
a thousand black starlings lift in alarm.
 

 

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