I envisioned a return to poem writing when we hit the road, and that has sort of happened. I’ve made two. I will make a short introduction to each below, not to explain, but for a bit of context. It occurs to me that readers of this blog do have the burden of grounding our write-ups, even when we have not been explicit. In any event, here are two poems.
The poem Clementine took me a long time to conceive and write. I’m usually pretty fast. In December, we met a family of four, and the older child made a profound impression on me. This is for her. The ’sacrificial leaf’ is a feature of the mangrove tree in which one leaf absorbs excess salinity and dies, so that the tree may live.
Clementine Can she really be This unwitting prophet Hand astride her father’s shoulder Blues-jammin’ Wiggly Tooth? This incarnation is uninvited Be Gone! She commands, recoiling From her present host. She has no vision To be the sacrificial leaf, Yellowing, dropping into the rich loam Of the mangrove forest. She shoulders none of it, Little Atlas, She heaves off her past lives, Her birth, around the campfire. The little nativity of her Father, mother, sister Is what she needs, Not the brackish past. ~Joseph Whiting
The poem Little Forts came fast. While camping in Marble Canyon, Arizona alongside the Colorado River, we came across these in the desert. Who knows how many we walked on before we even noticed them?! It’s based on little forts someone made to protect a struggling species of cactus, the Brady Pincushion.
Little Forts Astride Marble Canyon On a scree of slippery schist A human of superhuman Optimism Built fort after fort No more than an inch high Half a foot wide at best To guard to warn to ensure The nascent thrust of Uncountable Brady Pincushions Who dared hope my heavy boot Would not waylay the little cactuses Indignant and strong, shouldering Their way past April’s Cruellty? How many battlements have been erected In my name? ~Joseph Whiting