Creek Road Gang: “Homework,” “Early Morning Prayer,” “Hometown Departure,” and “Passage.”

I’m pleased to share that Creek Road Gang has published four of my poems in their June 2010 issue. You can also read them here:

Homework

In science class we learned that
the hottest point of steam is at
the tip of the teapot spout:
dangerously transparent
until it makes contact
with the cooler air.

After school, I do my homework
upstairs in my room.
My younger sister stays
in her own space, playing family.

At the top of the hour,
the clock clicks four.
We hear
the factory whistle
spewing billows of relief.
                    Our dad works there.

I hear my mom pace;
she crosses the floor
to adjusts the thermostat
in the kitchen below.

Maybe today, she will have
a kind word for wrath, or
she’ll have saved or made money,
or she will sit with him and a beer.

The front door slams.
                    I reach for the newspaper
                    and turn to the weather.

 
 
Early Morning Prayer
                    For Mother

I would rise from sleep and see you,
in the early hours of morning
in the backyard of our home.
Breathing quietly, I would watch you
from the window at the top of the stairs.

In that old swing made for two,
you would start your day
with your books and your thoughts,
your hands folded in prayer,

especially in the spring
as it awakened to summer
and the foggy mist receded
off the mesh of morning dew,

before that yard was filled
with the din of small voices,
the shift-change of birds,
and all the day’s news.

In those quiet hours,
you held a séance for the living
and resumed the belief
that gratitude and faith
would deliver us blessings
from a place
you never presumed to see.
 

 
Hometown Departure

I have boarded my train
and selected my seat.

After all these years,
our good-byes should be easy,
without the need to stall
over faded photos and threadbare stories,
without the porter reminding us
the train will wait no more.

But there you stand trembling,
your face expectant and exposed,
both hands reddened by the cold
shaking as they clutch your cane
and it secures you to the floor.

You are consumed by the moment
as if this one were final,
as if I am heading off to battle,
or abandoning you to randomness
like a wave with no shore.

You survey the steam
to see where I am seated.
Your eyes pace and fret
like a mother cat counting
her litter again,
her attention relentless
no matter the number
as each has its place
and each is cared for.

And then the train lurches,
and suddenly you see me.
Frantically, you wave
and smile with relief,
as if now we’re less parted
and your long drive home
will be easier
than it would have been before.
 

 
Passage

The bus—”it’s the bus!”

A summer in mothballs,
absorbing allure—a stage prop
awaiting its call to appear.

At last, it pulls up,
the first day of school.

A summer of diversions
now halts with a flash
and a last minute scramble
for some essential thing,
before the dash and the bound
through the welcoming doors
and the search for the seat
where the way is most clear.

While the lawn stretches back
to the person on the porch—
the one who is waving,

as every bus window
returns the same
to the one wave for whom
there are fewer each day.

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