Squaw Valley Review 2010
This issue of Squaw Valley Review continues the Squaw Valley Community of Writers Poetry Program tradition of publishing a collection of poems written or inspired during the poets' week together in July. Proceeds benefit the Scholarship Fund.
L. A. Jones
Barbara Buckman Strasko
Antoinette Nena Villamil
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Do we hold together in the afterlife?
I mean like the mountain holds together after its life as the ocean floor.
All the metals and molecules fold into each other.
Zinc and copper and magnesium in my own body being pulled to it.
What pulled us to Buffalo and how did we live in the cold?
I have another life as the ocean and snow and as a sad boy who couldn’t speak.
My present life quivers out of focus every now and then.
Are you in every rock and in the air and in the grass?
Are you still called Lucille or have you left that now for another shape or is it a shape of light?
Not as a nuthatch or full moon or faint star but maybe as a tree spiraling skyward out of bare rock.
And in the ocean is each wave itself or constantly dissipating?
Music of lines spelling something unknown about the energy of the universe.
But if I leave this world will I leave my wounds behind me.
How will I continue my journey without them?
So this week I came looking for the one who was like me twelve years ago: a little scared, funny haircut, unsure how to believe or belong.
And imagine my surprise when that person was still me.
And I came looking for you. To ask you and be brave enough to hear the answer:
Do we hold together in the after time?
Does the beach when the ocean –
Oh sure, honey. Sure.
We must look for our first weather,
that natal sky where our understanding
etched, lift the stones and freely flow
our throats—what is in your name
is the first command. And those who
are stripped of even this, limp for
the battle of home. There is a cost
to have our beginning, the feet
that secures us in another's mouth.
Each season we'll hear that crippled march.
This As That
in my latest painting
of a small city on a harbor
the homes i invented
lean on each other as friends
the water has vessels
three floating one beached
the sky is our sky a blue and a red
as if storms are only miracles
what does the little town mean
my life already lived
the town still harbors there
its habitants discovering
each other have a single purpose
their sweet mingle-mangled story
you have opened your orange breast in hopeful song to the possibility
of morning. This early stillness an antidote to the painful muscling
of the night, its dark ruminations. I seek
your ablutionary trail.
I am desperate
for the wisdom of dirt, the intelligence of lodge pole pines, sunlight sifting
through the aspens whose leaves are uncharacteristically stilled. Mule ears open
their yellows, attract the warmth of morning. Mosquitoes rise in the updraft
sensing my blood.
At every turn
altars of rock slab present flower tableaux. I follow the insistent
sound of water in hope of absolution for the body’s sadness,
for the heart’s despair to be worn away and softened
by white water.
I am ready to be rounded and returned to sand having found no comfort
in green pastures or still waters. I offer myself, the stone of myself, glad
to become small, hoping to be useful in ways
I’m yet to comprehend.
I am blessed
by this morning light that delineates a multitude of greens. Each penstemon leaf
illuminated below its pink trumpeting blossoms. I am dizzy with visions
and brush my fingers across a pine’s growth tips.
It roots me.
I have been afraid
to immerse myself in the voice of the water, of losing what vestiges
of self remain to become the bare bush dancing in the torrent
anticipating the moment of time expanding before me,
my heart, a fiddle leaf fern unfurling.
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