Reconnaissance, The Comet's Tail, Uncategorized

Invitation to Stillness

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It’s been over twenty-five years since I wrote these lines:

The doctors invited me to be still.
Then the X-ray revealed
one of van Gogh’s sunflowers
dying inside me, just beneath my ribs.
Not enough sun, they said,
prescribed antibiotics and suggested
lemon juice to ease the pain.

A few of the remedies worked; stillness came, then awakening. Just beneath my ribs, the sunflower lives, and so does the everpresent need to be still, to suggest bright petals and brave possibilities. Thanks, Vincent for this yellow.

Still, ever-spiraling.

Find the complete poem in Reconnaissance and more about doctors and prescriptions and journeys of other sorts in The Comet’s Tail: A Memoir of No Memoir.

 

Poems, Uncategorized

34 km from Paris

To celebrate the forthcoming publication of my husband Eric D. Lehman‘s novella Shadows of Paris, I’m posting this poem, not of Paris exactly, but when you read Shadows, you’ll know why this poem makes sense. The characters in his beautifully crafted story also “know something of transformation,” but that’s all I’ll say. You should discover it for yourself. Make your pilgrimage to Homebound Publications and buy your copy. Click again to get  Lune de Miel, where this poem first appeared.

Pilgrim at Auvers
The pigeons at L’eglise Notre Dame know something
of transformation. White broods in a sky that has forgotten
color and the silhouette of clouds. A quiet stroll
through narrow, charcoal streets led me here,
up ancient stone steps to the church where Vincent
van Gogh saw blue-black sky churn in flight around
the toasted edifice. The flock perches until the hint
of something migratory and innate calls them to stir;
in hues of gray they erupt in a smooth arc, returning
to roost on the slants of the high, tilted steeple.
Winter weighs endurance and transition as stone erodes
to dust, leaves compost to mud, and summer flowers
that steadily surveyed August afternoons convert
to dried stalks in frozen dirt. Pilgrims, too, know of shifts
and I walk into the warm and lonely church to wait
for language to come again to my cold lips.
Fifteen hundred hours toll from the bell tower,
a grave listens at the top of the hill, and a downcast sun
aches to paint maize onto the bare winter scroll.

Uncategorized

Mistral

This poem originally appeared in Lune de Miel, published by Finishing Line Press, 2012.

Mistral

Two battered boots wait
near the sloped steps that tilt
toward Vincent’s room in Arles.
On the back of a wobbly chair
hangs a solitary straw hat glimpsing
handprints thickly smeared
on the doorknob. Curled tubes
of cadmium spill the last beads
onto a dried palette, and a few
brushes soak in a tin bucket
of turpentine. In a frenzy,
flax, goldenrod, and chartreuse
pile onto canvases, sunflowers
left to dance in the dark melancholy
of the studio, petals falling from
the stretched linen as Vincent
storms into a black and starry night.

Van Gogh, Pair of Shoes, 1886