In honor of Poem in Your Pocket Day, we’re offering some poems by Maine women. I wish I could read each one to you aloud, as that’s the magic of this community-building poetry event. I’ll be reading poems to anyone who asks.
On the anniversary of the invasion
by Lee Sharkey (2007)
on my side knees bent hand resting
lightly on my rib cage
lightly your knees touch my knees
your breath washes over my face
my breath washes over your face
our breath sifts out the window
and rides the thermals
over earth’s face scarred and shining
brushing distant faces
turned slightly to the touch of the wind
Wanting to See a Moose
by Kate Barnes (2004)
When I am full
of some transporting emotion,
what I see is that ordinary things
are all extraordinary. But
it’s like gathered dew
on a blade of grass, it falls off
or dries up, and I can’t hang on
to the feeling. In no time
I’m back asking the fates
to let me see a moose
as I drive my car through the marsh–and not
attending to the gathering darkness
of evening, the cloudy light
that lingers, the reeds, the ducks,
the black, still water opening
beyond the causeway.
by Dawn Potter (2004)
It was darker then, in the nights when the cars
came sliding around the traffic circle, when the headlights
speckled with rain traveled the bedroom walls
and vanished; when the typewriter, the squeaking chair,
the slow voice of the radio stirred the night air like a fan.
Of course, the ones we loved were beautiful–
slim, dark-haired, intent on their books.
The rain came swishing against the lamp-lit windows.
The cat purred in his chair. A clock sang,
and we lay nearly asleep, almost dreaming,
almost alone, nearly gone–the days fly so;
and the nights, like sleep, disappear without memory.
Letter for Emily Dickinson
by Annie Finch (2004)
When I cut words you never may have said
into fresh patterns, pierced in place with pins,
ready to hold them down with my own thread,
they change and twist sometimes, their color spins
loose, and your spider generosity
lends them from language that will never be
free of you after all. My sampler reads,
“called back.” It says, “she scribbled out these screeds.”
It calls, “she left this trace, and now we start”–
in stitched directions that follow the leads
I take from you, as you take me apart.
You wrote some of your lines while baking bread,
propping a sheet of paper by the bins
of salt and flour, so if your kneading led
to words, you’d tether them as if in thin
black loops on paper. When they sang to be free,
you captured those quick birds relentlessly
and kept a slow, sure mercy in your deeds,
leaving them room to peck and hunt their seeds
in the white cages your vast iron art
had made by moving books, and lives, and creeds.
I take from you as you take me apart.
by Sue McConkey (1970)
Birdling nest in moon-
glow. Sing, deep night murmurings,
in morning bird song.
The Spring and the Fall
by Edna St. Vincent Millay (1923)
In the spring of the year, in the spring of the year,
I walked the road beside my dear.
The trees were black where the bark was wet.
I see them yet, in the spring of the year.
He broke me a bough of the blossoming peach
That was out of the way and hard to reach.
In the fall of the year, in the fall of the year,
I walked the road beside my dear.
The rooks went up with a raucous trill.
I hear them still, in the fall of the year.
He laughed at all I dared to praise,
And broke my heart in little ways.
Year be springing or year be falling,
The bark will drip and the birds be calling.
There’s much that’s fine to see and hear
In the spring of a year, in the fall of a year.
‘Tis not love’s going hurts my days,
But that it went in little ways.
by Florence Percy/Elizabeth Akers Allen (1856)
. How this delicious rain
Brings up the flowers! One might almost say
It rains down blossoms–for where yesterday
. I sought for them in vain,
They lie by hundreds on the wet green earth,
Rejoicing in the freshness of their birth.
. With idly folded hands
The farmer sits within his cottage door,
Watching the blessings which the full clouds pour
. Upon his thirsty lands–
Where written promise by his eye is seen,
In visible characters of living green.
. Unyoked the oxen stand,
The cool rain plashing on their heaving sides,
And with wide nostrils breathe the fragrant tides
. Of breezes flowing bland;
Then, as though sated with the odor sweet,
Crop the new grass that springs beneath their feet.
. Bloom-laden lilac trees,
Their purple glories dripping with the rain,
Shake off the drops in odorous showers again;
. And the small fragrances
Of cherry blossoms, and of violet blue,
Come balmily the open window through.
. No harsh or jarring sound
Breaks the refreshing stillness of the hour;
The gentle footfalls of the passing shower
. Patter along the ground–
The swallows twitter gladly from the eaves,
And the small rain talks softly to the leaves.
. Sweet is the gushing song
Which the young birds sing in the summer time,
The wind’s soft voice, the river’s wavy chime,
. Flowing in joy along.
But more than all I love the pleasant tune
Sung by the rain-drops in the month of June!