Francine Leffler Ringold
A weeping pipe, a peep.
Silence. Finally, a persistent whine
and again that urgent peep,
neither bird nor human.
The light is up, Pete with it.
He stretches . . .Sighs.
Cocks his head.
Does a star dance when I appear.
So it is with attachment. It feeds us.
It lets us bask in its sun.
[previously published in Nimrod International Journal]
If there is a ray
he’ll find it,
for just the right fit,
then cosy into the warm
pocket of light, no questions asked.
As for me, I seek out
surprise each day,
something like Marianne Moore
finding a poem in a mud puddle,
but not quite as special or ambitious.
Still, all that searching about saps energy,
less appealing on this snowy winter day
as I watch you, you slumbering there,
taking easy breaths.
Floating above the pain of this world.
Not leaving it.
What to Do with Old Pictures
after Wallace Stevens
The album at the end of the mind,
emboldened by the last frame, opens.
We know then that it is not an amorphous past
that shapes our yearning.
Faces flutter: Leslie, John, James, Suzanne
become young again. Beyond reason
these daughters, sons, husbands live anew.
Neither maudlin nor grim, Dani’s face smooths;
her head once bald, displays a new coiffeur.
Thus we are convinced the photo does not lie.
We can capture it again, this setting:
Christmas in New York; the surf pounding the Oregon coast;
The Isle of Skye, the sheep braying, offering a new coat.
My mother was a high woman.
She sat up tall in bed,
pillows piled behind her back.
Some days she’d fall
if the sheets weren’t pulled tight,
and we didn’t place her right
in the middle of the pillows so
the hollow would hold her bones.
But she was tall.
And she’d say:
“Bring me old news
and spread it out;
bring me potatoes, the knife,
an onion, a few carrots.”
And right there in her pillows,
she’d carve up the stew,
order it set on the stove
Sometimes, at night, even now,
I feel something press
down the edge of my bed,
next to my chest.
I tell myself:
Hold still. Don’t breathe.
I keep my eyes shut;
feel the bed sink down.
I cross my arms over my chest.
That high woman
[previously published in Still Dancing; New & Selected Poems (Coman & Associates, 2004)]
“This Morning,” “Sun Dog,” and “What To Do With Old Pictures” are forthcoming in Dog Days: A Way of Speaking (Coman & Associates, Tulsa, Oklahoma, September 2013).
Francine Leffler Ringold is the Editor-in-Chief of Nimrod International Journal, a position she has held for the last 46 years. She was the Poet Laureate of Oklahoma for two consecutive terms in 2003-2007. She is also a two time winner of the Oklahoma Book Award and was named a “Writer Who Makes a Difference” by Writer magazine in 2003. Also a playwright and performer, Ringold has extensive stage and radio experience. Her play, Mercy, a historical drama, based on the life of Mercy Otis Warren, was presented at a national Chautauqua conference held in St. Paul, Minnesota, under the auspices of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Her one-woman presentation Isadora (Isadora Duncan) was performed as part of the 1993 Chautauqua in Tulsa and at several other venues thereafter. Very involved in innovative community-wide teaching, writing, and publishing projects, Ringold continues to teach creative writing workshops as an outreach of Nimrod and for the Continuing Education Department of The University of Tulsa. Her next book of poems, Dog Days: A Way of Speaking is forthcoming in September, 2013.
And this is Pete, the dog.
Jen Hoppa Photography.