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Wendy Howe
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Proserpine by Dante Gabriel Rosetti
Phenomena

Dusk feathered in shadow
watches the moon hatch
from a niche of sky, white larva
waiting to expand its wings of light.
The evening paints them well;
bird of prey and opaque moth
eyeing each other  in contention.
One wants to consume the other;
and the other -- to outwit
the predatory darkness. This sorrow
I have untethered 
into moments of silence
and mountains. Its presence
larger but weaker than the moon,
more naive, even beautiful
in its blue sojourn from the soul.

The Ego To Her Monk

And so  you bring me here
to witness how:
you live in a hut built of mud and stone,

dine on  kelp leaves
and water cress floating
among the rocks of St. Kilda,

taste wild honey sweet
off a waxen comb
crafted by bees humming
their own Salve Regina,

write verse with the stray
feather of goose or duck,

muffle your ache
with the moan of seals,
in  the waking dawn,

tie your robes
with a twist of grape vine,

and cut your hair
when it lengthens past
the ear lobe.

And so you bring me here
to say -- as temptress born
from your grate of bone
I will perish.

The turf shall become my tower
into which I  fall
bowel-deep, my white throat
consumed by worm and  beetle,

its vessel of vain song
diminished --
to the masonry
of seed and  loam,
the slow fade of sin.

And so you bring me here --
an obdurate stare, too shocked
to coax or tremble.

Souvenirs

Rain christens the terrace
and I share twilight with street lamps, pigeons --
a book  of pressed leaves. Dried foliage
slides between pages that speak of a child
who sold matches  and lit three of them
to keep warm on the streets of a cold city.
She struck each against the wall and watched flames
erupt in visions of comfort  and flight.

I thought about her story when walking the park.
Leaves flared at my feet, yellow first. A flashback
where the sun magnified my shadow on stone
as I sat grasping the ocean. A girl who decided then
she wanted to fly. A sea bird, an artist.

A second leaf caught my glance
with its red warning of change. I reached out
and remembered my son's narrow ship
floating in the  fountain. He was twelve on the verge
of other things. The boat shook. Its sail a wing. Its rope
a  root stretching  toward me and branches bent low --
trying  to grab the spent wishes of childhood.

And there was a third leaf, brown  like the  luggage
that stays half unpacked, bohemian  in this flat
facing a queen's  quarters  at Versailles. Carrier birds
sense my cartography. How I've moved from Paris
to the outskirts of town -- a smaller place with silk
wall paper, the tightening of middle age.


Long After Ulysses

Goats were left on an island
by the conquistadors
shining in their argent splendor
with other places to sail.

The hills were harsh;  shrubs
and dry patches of grass
where the livestock grazed
on strange ground, sensing a savage wind.

They were used to hearing
hinged gates, heaved pails of water
or grain, a woman's skirt ripping
on the garden briar. A soldier's  boot
broadcast loudly on  deck.

Scimitared but scavenging,
the  horned species seemed lost, stripped
of their wild instincts through husbandry
and time. Yet, when the mist  rolled in

and  revealed the  pale daughters
of the Galapagos sea,  long fingers combed
through their matted hair -- separating
the fragile from the feral,

casting grim into the grace
of survival. Hand maidens who untangled
their skein of storm.

.
In The Moment

He sits in the soft drizzle
smoking a cigarette, red clover
blooms in the dusk.

Or maybe it seems that way
because rain has come to the desert --
everything flares in beauty.

Palm leaves and pine needles drip
with a metronomic gleam
and water spills into its own
secret patterns on the floor.

I stand in the doorway
leaning into twilight's garden
and watch the floral embers
cool to ash -- his silhouette
in this showered haze,
a bringer of pause and comfort.

Illumination

The moment unhooks her corset of wind
and leaves its blue bells dangling
in still air. Her body becomes  light
stretching through the trees
and beneath  stream water absorbing
the story that  takes shape

from whatever shadow
enters the scene, whatever scent
breathes through the ribs
of bulrush or willow, whatever spirit
webs briar and broken rock.

Disrobed and radiant, the moment
settles into her subtle craft -- waiting
for a voice, a hand and quill
to turn the greenwood's flesh
into words. A prayer, a song --
an act of creation.

Wordflair Community
of Poets and Writers
              Visitant

Do they pass
shining behind your life?
                               Richard Lattimore

The last time they saw Chloe
she was holding a cock tail glass in her hand
and slipped into a cab.

The blue vehicle dissolved with her
in the bluing hours of dusk
and the chandeliered echo of street lamps
that glamorized the French boulevard.

She told her friends she was drowning
in the high life and wanted to ground herself
in the earth.  Some thought she meant
an old farm house with a garden. Others surmised
a convent where nuns cultivated grapes
and raised llamas to weave wool.

They never asked  just waved farewell
and assumed she would write. Post card,
letter, even a telegram considering
that a cell  or tablet might violate
her rustic vows.

Relaxed on the beach, tall  beverages
poised  in their hands, their tan glowing
incandescent between the trees -- they look startled.
A girl rises from the surf
wearing a wide-brimmed hat and sun glasses.

Her splendid body draped in sea splash
and gliding with an Audrey Hepburn grace
(as if resurrected by Capote). A free spirit
clinging to the spritz of salt and foam,
the fluctuating rhythms of the tide. She's a stranger

but there is something similar
to what they have known of Chloe's bone
structure and stance. She doesn't turn her head
or hail them with a slender arm
but flings off a shawl that  hugs her hips --
and pleases the wind.

Prone to  gossip, they glance
toward each other and notice
their own shadows on the sand. An angular
flatness that soon absorbs a familiar scent.

A blend of bergamot and jasmine
that once circulated through their penthouse rooms
and  villa porch.

They look up  -- the young lady is gone,
evaporated from the scene. Her silk
left fluttering on the shore. Its label reads

in elegant script, light as an engraver's script --
Made in New York.