The Samaritan

The camera hung
from a street lamp.
She knew it was on
and still lingered to help
a man bleeding near the sidewalk.
After calling 911
she tore a bandage
from her blouse sleeve. Carefully
she wrapped the wound.
He was half-conscious
and barely heard her accent.
A borderline blend
of Spanish and Aztec.
She talked to him of her homeland,
confessing old secrets
while a few birds pecked at the sun.
+ + + + + + +

In her village,
natives crafted a flute
from the bone of buzzards
and summoned ancestors
to heal the sick.
In her house
songs were sung of planting
and weaving,
seeds that grew
into Castilian roses
and threads binding light with shadow.
And in her body
the soul became a cloak
of cactus cloth -- a Maiden's image
bled into its natural fibers.
+ + + + + +

Soon sirens were heard
and she knew the police  were coming
( among others).
She took her phone
and moved across the street
into an alley.
A stone passage
muraled with shadows.
Her hand dropped
the wireless world;
and she wept in her white dress
listening for water,
the tears of her sisters,
of her children
who had drowned in the crossing.

Copyright © 2016
Wendy Howe
All rights reserved
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Wordflair Community
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Proserpine by Dante Gabriel Rosetti
Fade To Black

I bought you a pair of leather gloves
for the train journey north
where an ocean peers through forest trees.
I chose black to overshadow the cold,
to match the style of your London Fog --
the dark wash of your Hungarian hair,
and their  lining soft like pines
that insulate the wild coast, or this crooning bird
snug in his niche of  wood.

The Hysteric

I am not afraid. I was born to do this.
                                       Joan of Arc

She kneels on the stone floor
of her prison. The shock
of a girl in tunic
and leather leggings.

Some of the straw
scattered --
damp and loosened
from her bedding.

It's old grass,
a  whirlwind flattened
as if the grain
where the ashes

of those voices
that once whirled
through the meadow
and her mind.

A  wind that spoke
in the tongues
of  Saint and Archangel.

A  wind that spun
her plain hair and gown
into a gust of light,

a beacon
of foretellings
she barely understood
yet believed.

And from the echoes,
she emerged
solvent in grace,
driven to fulfill.

The trees shook
stuttering the syllables
of their names.

The morning sun
flickered in her tears.

At her trial
in their long,  trefoiled room,
the clerics said
she was wild-eyed,
unbalanced --
her womb inflamed;

but she remained
(as she seems now )
resolute. A maid
in knight's clothing,
her white hands
notched in prayer.

Cranes In Autumn

what we need is here.
            Wendell Barry

One bird aims her neck
toward the sky,
the other slants his
toward the ground.

The first is poised
to hear a cloudburst,
her partner to listen
for a cricket’s song
                in the grass.

Both are waiting  for rain
like the  flower bush
and  tree leaning against 
the weather bleached wood.

And when it comes,
the rain will rinse
their iron shapes, giving
each crane a spirit.
For a moment
                they will feel

the ache of fallen leaf,
torn bloom of rose
and  fence rail fraying
into splinters And most
of all, they will sense
our shadow, inhale the joy

                lingering  (there)
in the corner
where I read you  poems
and the moon  floated
its muslin kite
over a green field.


The trees stand bare and bristled
like the brush of a chimney sweep
while a few birds cling
to what holds the work of winter and wind.

The last leaves have been scraped
off the season. Their colors embered
in the wine and loaf of bread afternoons
we shared on a bench.  Sun flickered
through its verdigris ribs. We  allowed words
to loosen and crackle in the light
never thinking what they really meant

or how they transubstantiate
into tears, the ache of untouched flesh
when our shadows no longer mingle
on the garden grass. When we are left
to feel the grip of year round birds
and those stark branches begin to scratch..
The Grassroots Of  It

First, you hear the fetch
of his song. Long and slowly
swallowed by the dawn.

A spiked bird
in the  honey locust
pining for his partner.

A poignant psalm
until you learn his name
and the mind
wants to mock the thought:

an echo
for  the German clock

a symbol
for the lunatic,

a refrain
for the monk's song
that sounds like blithe nonsense.

Sing cuccu nu , Sing cuccu.

The desert cuckoo
calls in spring, commiserates
with the field thirsting for rain.

The wind shakes out the earth.
A rug spill of seeds, dust, feathers 
and wisps of thistle,

spider veins of  the soul,
the release of something
grown from ache and tenacity,

from a word we strain to use
in verse, call as mate 
or match with the image
of a bird.

So clichéd, the breath
of the sentimental;
but here it is -- fibers  torn, 
uprooted to reveal -
we are spun from this

and it lasts forever. A  countless thing
but when the ground cock sings,
they say the number of times
(you hear him ) foretells

the amount of years
you will live, and perhaps
in the bittersweet throb
of his throat --

how often
you will forfeit your soul.