Poems of April, 2021, by Marina Richie

Spring Laundry

Strung pine to pine tree
Clothesline sways in colors
Blue-checked shirt and floral skirt
Pinned for the wind to iron,
the air to freshen, the damp to dry

My mother’s hands taught these hands
Shake out those stiff denim jeans
Give them a snap! Lift and affix
folding over at pockets
Pulling the legs straight

Longing for her fingers to meet mine
as we pluck wooden clothespins
from a cotton bag. Never too many.
Why three pins, when two will do?
Ways of making with less

Where once a necessity, now a choice.
Dryers spinning and costing
while the wind is free.
How did a childhood task become
a forbidden practice?

Friends who lived within strict
covenants to prevent unsightly bras,
nighties and panties swinging in view,
Instead draped their clothes over bushes
Over railings, delighting in the loophole

My mother’s hands are guiding me still
Have I touched my son’s too?
Folding the breeze-dried clothes
Enfolding within kinglet and siskin song
Calling us to simpler ways

String your own line tree to tree
Sleep on sheets scented in first blooms
Imagine if all our hands could touch
across fences neighbor to neighbor
Airing our laundry and laughing!

Death of an Elder

When high winds felled
centuries-old ponderosa
Earth tremored
in welcome

Glinting needles once
grazed sky, now shower
Forest floor, gentling
broken places

Goodwill Man

Rough hands. Heavyset.
Your face weary and worn
around the mask

My soft hands bundle up
sleeping bag and duffel
scuffed from so much wear

Tells me he can see
my smile hidden
under the mask

“That means a lot”
he says. Our eyes meet
as I load up his canvas cart

Feel the exchange
His warmth and mine

In Covid time
We are learning where
kindness resides

Flying Dream

I do not remember
Launching into the air
Wings flapping
Floating high

Only this gliding
Above a meander of
River winding
Far below

Eagle soaring. Shadow
Crossing the gentle
Wide valley
At dusk

Then, dizzied
By a drop off
As if the river had
Fallen off a cliff

So far down
Scared by vertigo
No choice but to
Trust in feathers

Day dimming
River lighting
Heart beating
Relinquishing fear

How does one keep
A flying dream
Safe in the daylight of
Spring Equinox?

Walking (after reading Stanley Kunitz, “The Layers”)

I have walked on many trails
Feet trained to know loose
sands of high desert
Slipping back with every step
Time receding away

Roots plunge deep, water scarce
Sagebrush and juniper
Teaching feet to thrive
On barest necessity

I have walked on many trails
Needled and latticed.
Springy silence underfoot
Padding along bear sniffing for
sun-ripe huckleberries

Moss luminesces trickling brook
Cedar, spruce and Calypso orchid
Misting rain softens bewildering
dance of profusion

Along trails I have come to know
Flock of finch. Slide of snake.
The way mountains tumble
Fault, crack, and split
this heart asunder
even as I keep
on walking

All I Have

This body is all I have
Aching muscles
Keep strengthening
For all I want
Backpack, running,
Cycling in wind

This mind is all I have
So much forgetfulness
Keep sharpening
For all I want
Perceiving, recalling
All that matters most

This spirit is all I have
Continue seeking
Keep practicing
For all I want
Centering, Loving
Clasping this life

Calling Rain

Tousling tumbling tree-topping
Dry wind sears and slices
Tethering taunting tessellating
Who will quench dusty despair?

Pleading praying pretending
Set this climate clock back
Reversing remembering relaying
Frayed message in a bottle

Opening opining ordering
Listening learning levitating
Finding bird wings finally
Weightless wiser wilder

Dreaming away drifting drought
Rain romp. Cloud call. Raven rift. At last
Droplets dappling. Drizzle dampening.
Streaming tears on sleeping seeds

California Quail

Day’s end flustered wings
Covey whorls up to roost
Settles in spruce coos and clucks
Plumed heads tucked on plump breasts
Sleeping communion

I Jump Up

I jump up when I see
the rarity of a white-headed woodpecker
scaling a ponderosa pine tree

So it is when spring bewilders
New arrivals on windy whirlers

Leafing and blossoming, a courting spree
Inviting every new breath taker

I jump up when I hear
tinkling notes of white-crowned sparrow
stripping away all veneer

Bessie Butte

Cold snap
Wind flap
Collar gap

Bessie Butte hike
Sky strike
Breath bright

Dog bound
Dawn surround
Moon round

Wind bright
Cascade light
Everything right