Bio Note: I’m a retired English professor with four grandsons, a large garden, and an irrepressible bent for activism. I’m still trying to carve out time for writing, too. My latest book is World Enough, and Time (Kelsay, 2017), and my poems have recently appeared in The American Journal of Poetry and Southern Poetry Review.
Sometime when the river is ice, ask me mistakes I have made. Ask me whether what I have done is my life. “Ask Me “- William Stafford
She would have none of it. She wanted to break under ice to the dark flow of deeds. What else is a life but what we’ve done? she wanted to know. The other students grew quiet, turned to watch the woman old enough to be their mother, who’d sat silent so long in the back of the room. She hated that poem, and the man who wanted to cover and run. And at first I made the mistake of taking his side. I knew his Buddhist heart, but not only the kind wish to be known by their inner lives. For her, no history or “persona” could salvage the lines. She fought the current, built a dam against the poem’s seduction. It was clear she’d had enough comings and goings, alibis, evasions. Through her life some father or husband, brother or stranger, must have run like a molten river. And no pacifist armed with a poem could make her back down.
First appeared in A Ritual to Read Together: Poems in Conversation with William Stafford ed. by Becca J.R. Lachman (Woodley)
Family Outside the Key West Island Bookstore, New and Used
They pause—a man, a woman, their son— to scan the windows. Hemingway’s broad face smiles through the glass, his head as large as the man’s torso, and the man, slender, wearing glasses, his folders in one hand, gazes back at the author, thinking—What? He’ d never be able to shoot a lion? Wouldn’t want to? What a shame so talented a writer turned his gun on himself? Hemingway looks past him, perhaps toward a shapely woman across the street, a woman whose dress hugs her body, whose heels tick like a clock against the walk. A woman who moves as if she knows a man is watching. Even a man long dead would notice, to say nothing of the man staring past his own reflection, the reflection of his wife so different in skirt below her knees, sensible low-heeled shoes. A wife who drifts to the other window, gazing at a cookbook of Thai recipes, though she has never been to Thailand and does not favor highly spiced food, while their son eases into the open door, not sure what he’s in search of, but restless in his changing body, his life ahead like a book not read, or even written.
First appeared in Paterson Literary Review
©2020 Mary Makofske
Editor's Note: If this poem(s) moves you please consider writing to the author (email address above) to tell her or him. You might say what it is about the poem that moves you. Writing to the author is what builds the community at Verse Virtual. It is very important. -JL