Sunday, December 10, 2006

Two Poems: Margaret James

Now and Then

It is the new slant of light,
the framed sunrise, oak leaves and fir.
It is her voice in the darkness, needy and soft,
the warm comfort of flannel bedding.

It is a rainwater well somewhere in Louisiana
and the grandmother's hands, honey, biscuits.
It is her bed as tall as a mountain
the floral printed sheets and her low snore nearby.

We are woven into these attachments.
We walk out on the teacher to travel back.
It was once the Mother leading,
now the great distance becomes the friend.

* * * * *

Jane Doe

I bring her a potato knish warm,
wrapped in tin foil as a present
to her present state: wrapped in a blanket
in the Sunday morning lit doorway of a sushi restaurant.

Seven days later, I do it again.
This time she is walking,
pacing the winter sidewalk
in summer pants, ripped almost to short.

My gift of pants in size 9, she declines,
says, “Maybe next week.”
I ask if there is anything else I can do,
“No, not now.”

No, not now in my cozy chair,
my children asleep in their dreaming beds,
while their mother remembers the lady's brush starved hair
and realizes with the deep pain of regret -
I didn't care enough to ask her name.

~ Margaret James, from Eugene, OR, is a regular contributer here at ETR. You can see more of her poetry at her Zaadz blog.

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