Linda is a Unitarian Universalist minister, retired back to Santa Fe after serving congregations in other parts of the country. My poet friends Jane Lipman and Janet Eigner suggested she send me poems. Good idea!!
Linda considers Santa Fe home since 1976. Her husband Bob Wilber and she live at the edge of Santa Fe in a rural area where they play rancher with horses, mules, goats and numerous Australian Cattle Dogs.
Linda says she starts every day with poetry, almost always before sunrise. Being alone with a new sheet of paper or blank page on the computer is her way of meditating. She loves the sense of conversation poetry allows, a dialogue with inner-self but also with someone out there who may read what she's written and connect with her through it. The greatest joy, she says, is when she receives a note or comment from someone who has found her work and felt it spoke to them. Mysterious and wonderful
After Dvorak’s 9th
Dvorak’s New World swells across prairie
and mountain, gallops like phantom mustangs
above grasslands and scorching deserts.
A simple melody, borrowed from porch steps
of the deep South, flits limb to limb—
strings to woodwinds to brass.
Here it comes again. This time
sung tremolo by oboe and flute.
I want to ride the updrafts of the music,
soar with eagles above this land I love,
but those sounds, meant to celebrate freedom,
make me sad instead.
When the finale erupts with kettle drums,
cymbals and brass, the full truth erupts,
my beautiful country, powerful, yes,
and brutish, noisy, often foolish,
flawed, benighted, both feared and mocked
by the rest of the world.
A Meeting Place
At an auction in Ireland, you bid on a little milk jug.
It had the feel of the many hands that poured from it.
The mother was in the ceramic’s faded flowers.
You knew she had milked the cows
before feeding eager appetites their gruel.
You could have bid on creamers of fine china,
but they didn’t have what you were after.
You chose from a part of you that knows
but doesn’t know how it knows. You build as you go,
loving what you love, gathering unto yourself
words that please the tongue—
virga, ambosia, ebullient, debauched
words to make a poem. You store up good music, art,
beneficence of nature. It is the work of a lifetime,
this tending the soul.
Events make their way to the very center—
you swoon with new love and crumble when its over,
births and deaths, each with its unique power.
Every person who passes through your life
leaves a signature. You take risks,
stand for a cause, carry a banner, sign your
name on the dotted line, put your shoulder
into work you believe in.
The soul is a meeting place, a rendezvous,
a recognition. On your desk, along with pencils
in a cup, a peacock feather, one of two
you and your grandson gathered as you followed
those haughty birds around the grounds
of the Denver Zoo. Now that he’s off to college,
that feather is more than feather.
An encounter reaches to the lush interior
of your being. Curry comb and brush pass
over hide of a sweaty horse. The day is hot,
your arm muscles tire, but you go on
because you are in that meeting place
where actions kindle inner light.
Light that will shine long after the horse
is gone, the paddock empty,
the horsewoman old.
Blue Silk and Lace
Earnings from a file-clerking summer job
bought items for her trousseau—
floor-length blue silk gown, negligee with trim
of ivory lace and matching high-heeled mules.
After the honeymoon the fancy sleepwear
came to dwell in a make-shift closet—
vintage flowered drapes stretched across one wall
of the tiny bedroom in their student apartment.
Through grad-school her wardrobe was mostly
Beatnik black. Life revolved around
his physics problems, her papers on influences
of Whitman, learning to read Baudelaire in French.
Much later, when closets had sliding doors
with mirrors and she had become middle-aged,
she came upon that blue silk bit of glamour hanging
with out-of season clothes.
Stripping to skin, she tried on the gown, the negligee,
tucked toes into the mules and studied herself
from all angles in the expanse of mirrors. Not bad,
she thought, for a woman in her forties.
Something she had almost schooled out of herself
reemerged—the all-but-forgotten pleasure of silk
against skin, courage sensuality bestows, power
that comes with feeling beautiful.
Larry met a nice woman at church
and thought of inviting her to lunch.
Why didn’t you? I asked, knowing how much
he longed to meet someone special.
Wrong shoes was his answer.
What was wrong with her shoes he couldn’t say.
Grandmother had saved my mother’s
baby shoes, keepsakes from her darling’s
childhood. Looking at those little shoes,
you can almost see the toddler
following her mother around the farmyard.
After Mother’s funeral, I found in her closet
rows of pumps, although she almost never went out.
Her sad life wafted up from Tweedies insoles.
I have hung her little girl shoes in my kitchen—
baby oxfords, tiny leather sandals, patent leather
Mary Janes for dress-up. When guests ask about them,
I only say, They were my mother’s.
In Budapest, shoes cast in iron memorialize those
who were shot on the wharf of the Danube,
their bodies swallowed up by the river as they fell—
children’s high-tops, classy women’s heels, work boots,
dress shoes suitable for a lawyer or doctor.
From each pair, a life emanates.
This morning a reporter described what’s left
of a Parisian restaurant where patrons had been
dining out last Friday—broken glass, blood-stained linen
and, amongst it all, a single shoe. Was it lost
as a panicked customer ran for cover?
An artifact of terror.
Maybe the woman at church
was going to work at a job that required
good arch supports or maybe she couldn’t
afford better. Maybe she had prayed
that morning for a suitor. Maybe Larry
will spend all his life being lonely.
Overnight in the Panhandle
We’re passing through country where entire hillsides
are black and white with cows fattening up for slaughter.
Down the road a hog farm big as some towns.
Oil pumps punctuate landscape void of much else.
Road-weary, we arrive at the only motel with vacant rooms.
Right away, it’s clear, this is a motel for laborers—
drivers of long trucks, cattlemen, drillers,
builders of all sorts.
When these men come in tired from hard work,
I suppose, they don’t much mind 60’s décor,
a motel worse-for-the-wear, aged dirt embedded in rugs,
smoke from when it was allowed, still clinging to walls.
I make a study of the clientele, wondering
what it would be like working for an industry tainted
with killing animals or as controversial as oil. I suppose
they’d say, It’s a living. Someone’s got to do it.
They don’t seem to go out at night or party in their rooms,
but at dusk the parking lot is full of men taking
a last smoke, leaning on their trucks to call home.
After dark, from their rooms, only a muted TV drone.
Next morning, the East Indian owner has lain out
a good spread. Men load up on eggs and sausage,
pancakes and lots of coffee. They talk very little
and don’t seem interested in NBC news.
As I have my sweet roll and coffee, I tamp down
the urge to ask them how they can bear the work they do.
Anyway, I’m saved by the clock. At quarter to eight,
they fill huge to-go cups and are out the door,
leaving us overnighters with lots to think about.
These are the ones who put bacon on our table
and keep our car going toward home.
more bio: Since retiring, Linda has published a chapbook and three full collections of poetry. Also many poems have appeared in journals and anthologies in the U.S. and beyond. In 2010 she discovered Ireland and has returned five times since to attend a writers' conference. SOMEWHERE IN IRELAND is a collection of poems inspired by herr travels there. It was launched in Ireland in 2011.
The DitchRider’s Sunday Poem on Duke City Fix is accepting submissions of 3 to 5 of your favorite poems. Please send in a word doc to firstname.lastname@example.org ; be sure to put DitchRider in the subject line and include a short bio and a few pictures from which I may select. Your name on the poems seems to be very useful! Thanks in advance from Merimee. I will get back to you within the shortest framework I can muster.