Guest Poet Paula Grenside

Night-blooming Cereus

I let my skin lie on seaweed and salt
to dive into my body,
go further down,
reach you floating
on the vessels-ropes
of my heart.
You, day acrobat,
pockets full of stars,
eyes bleeding from glass tears,
bowed to voices and music
from a maddened circus,
took wingless flight
amid roaring trumpeters.
White sandal on  asphalt,
your spirit in sky bedroom.
Inside my body,
on branches darkened by pain,
you bloom, multifoliate Cereus
in the night; your smile vanishing
at the touch of life's light.

August, 1999

Paula Grenside's Questions:

The Cereus is symbol of something beautiful, intense, short-lived. It lasts one night, but once you see it, you never forget it. The memory of it is permanent inside you. The symbolic meaning I attached to the flower is multi-layered, just like the Cereus.
What kind of emotions, experiences does it suggest?

No Eviction Order

	(after Kenn Mitchell)

She'd sit on  patch of ground,
farthest corner of the churchyard,
early morning  late afternoon;
at night the moon of mercy
poured beams on  huddled body, as if
aware it wasn't tiny heap of trash.

She'd smell the scent of rain
and cup her hands to wash her eyes
as tears had dried up long before
when hair was thick and fair,
not sparse and white dandelion's mass,
whose seeds would travel soon
to feed the birds.

She'd smile and water weediness.
To those who cared to ask
what she was doing or guarding
she'd answer that was home;
in months she'd never seen
evictors and death would be
the only order she'd  accept.

August, 1999

Paula Grenside's Questions:

The poem was inspired by a few lines in a local paper.

Does it convey the old woman's loneliness and serene acceptance?

Does the dandalion metaphor work? Can you visulaize her thin white hair?

Thank you.

To My Father

In the morning, 
when consciousness glides on frozen river,
long cracks cuff smooth surface,
each fissure projects a memory
from hidden blue that melts time's silence.

Four wooden boards nail my father's body;
slow descent into the earth's heart,
sighs and sods fall in choked bumps-
-To die, here, means - as he would say,
melting in the earth looking at the sky -

It's over. Then,

my void, his absence cling to the heart's edge.
Shadows like vapors exhaled from damp earth
twist around  life's branches,
leaves frame his smile,
he whispers love with breeze lips.

I believe

that in the shining distance of white
he talks to me, tells me how to reach him
in the space-river that joins our worlds
in the swashing of memories.

August, 1999

Paula Grenside's Questions:

The poem aims at conveying pain but hope too.

All comments will be welcome.

Thank you.

The Albany Poetry Workshop