5 Poems by Pat Anthony

Pat Anthony writes from the rural Midwest finding inspiration, in the soil’s rugged furrows and the faces of those working it. She frequently uses the land as lens while she mines characters, including herself, to explore relationships as a means to heal and survive living with bi-polar disorder. Former poetry editor of Potpourri (out of print) she holds an MA in Humanities Literature from Cal State, among others, teaching English, Spanish, and Special Education until her recent retirement. Writing and publishing since University days, she believes in poeming daily, editing furiously and scrabbling for honesty no matter the cost.

 

Transfiguration

she likes words
like scuppernong
and pawpaw

that transport her
into dark woods

where her body
becomes
a tree

her upraised arms
spring
and
summer

finger tips trailing
drupes of ash
fans of sycamore

her fists green
furred acorns
from the burr oak

her breath takes
in the heavy damp
the river below
sand bluffs

exhales morning
mist redolent
of guara
bluebells

she is
gone

5th & Mulberry

Curtains have gone
to threads scalloping upstairs

windows above the porch
sagging a half-shuttered eye

two stories of majestic ells
dormers, gingerbread beneath

step from the side door
into mounds of tiger lilies, moss

as if Miss Havisham walked
out left lace yellowing

shades dancing in the wind
where glass slipped frames

silence escapes onto the road
a curling message of peeling paint

scribed on tongue
and groove, see the bones

bleaching, mouldering this
house like a tomb, listen

voices trapped beneath
kitchen table chairs

tumbled onto sawdust
ground fine by an army

carpenter ants bringing it all
down more cheaply

than paying to have it
it razed by dozers from town.

Shamans

Herons lift off
cove after cove,
barely skimming choppy water

wings silvering
afternoon light

they own this place
first six then eight,
one on driftwood
others spread out
on berms with fire pits

they talk to each other
loud squawks arguing
lift off or stare down

fly
only far enough
to avoid what might be
a threat from an old impala
meandering along
the river

I stop to read
creel limits
snake warnings

worship within this sanctuary
with shamans

who read my need
for healing buried in
wordless petitions

I wish them good fishing
shut my eyes to dive

fly away
on their backs

A Line Fine as Breath

The poet
rehearses lines
as they slide
across polished floors
spin into corners
roll down stairs

like errant marbles
from some game
in the alley

to be lost
perhaps
forever

he knows nothing
could be
worse

so he keeps
talking to the old
portraits
on the stairs

as he races
to find that nub
of pencil

that yellowed scrap
of paper

that will record
this moment

pens a line
fine as breath

 

Alejandro Has Certain Expectations

(Upon the Occasion of Las Posadas
Distrito Federal, Mexico)

There is the small matter of a shepherd
costume, the lack of a pattern, the larger
lack of a sewing machine. Unbleached
muslin flows across the table, purchased
at the mercado in the city center

chatter is intense, mother and grandmother
spilling words into this dimness. The school
has said the boy must have wide legged trousers,
traditional shepherd’s shirt, yardage for a serape,
hempen rope for a belt. We put aside knitting

needles with which we have been learning
subsistence skills for a needle and thread,
a cuticle scissors. I explain my idea to turn
the young one’s school pants inside out,
trace a pattern onto the newspapers from

the bathroom. Begin to mark with a pencil,
add for hems and waist, make the cuts, weave
a backstitch by hand in the aching cold
of this concrete block apartment in the heart
of Efren Rebolledo. There is nothing else

to do within these bare walls with the banquet
sized dining table that the furniture rental
tries to repo weekly. Nothing works: the
old console TV, the refrigerator, the iron
warming up only if there’s power coming

from the single cord linked to a sputtering light
bulb. Now and then the old Maytag lurching
its cold water load on the back patio where I
can touch both walls with my palms, but big
enough for a double clothesline where we freeze

dry the laundry. But back here, inside, there is
still the sense of expectation as I tinker
with the slippery fabric, attach clothespins to
hold seams together and work against the light.
It’s not a dust choked garment factory, but I
imagine rows of women adding lace to dresses
in New York, locked in against any sudden
departure from the boredom, deadlines against
which I soldier on. Come evening, after
school, I hold the trousers, shirt, embroidered

serape up against his brown face, his startled
eyes large above the fact that from heaps
of fabric, clothing has emerged. I spy sly
amusement and even hope when he turns
a leg, shows me hand tooled leather boots

he wants to wear instead of a goat herder’s
rope sandals. Mutters about his fútbolistas,
his reputación. Eschews the pigs and goats
saying as how La Santa Virgen rode a donkey
everyone knows there needs to be a gaucho.

 

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