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Shelby Graham

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Margaret Brose


We only love in parts
in fits and starts
half-glimpsed shadows in the dark.

We see through a hole
or slit or slot but we cannot
gather in the fullness of the soul.

I carry with me
the fragment of your face
talismanic pleasure to the touch
this sliver may be much more you
than wider contours of the brow.

Now you are gone.  Not even 
here in dream. I hold this one part 
safe within my pocket
or closed within a  locket
my change purse of the heart.
A token, small coins
picayune pleasures.

All that vastness. 
I could not encompass it 
even then. 


Her desperate flight by river’s edge
was arrested.  Did her slow unfurling
pale green to evergreen
occur unseen?
Apollo watched as frame by frame
anamorphosis claimed his prize
booty banished to bark,
lymph to sap to leafy tree,
captured, ruptured, raptured.

How does the epidermis un-leaf?
were laurel buds always underneath
her roseate flesh, small nodules
unknown but waiting to evolve,
to metastasize?

What horror did she feel
at that first hardening of skin,
when did the transition begin
can she recall the terror?
Or was it consummation?

Does she pine for her once nimble gait?

Apollo wins either way.
Daphne was always lost
tossed and played with by the gods
from time immemorial.

MiddleTown in March

        for Greta

Fresh snow clung to the low-lying mounds
of last week's fall. It fell all at once 
a hushed whisper,  pale counterpane 
pulled tight around the feet of this leafless birch retreat.
It came in fullness and complete consistency,
no inside, no outside. 

Spring rain reveals the underneath
down below the leached-out soil
that crabgrass will hide again when
warmer rain wets the colorless dust.
Dirty ice yields its treasures to the sight
bottle shards, candy wrappers twisted tight.

Snow kept the present safe 
damped down the injuries of time
pulled a curtain across the  proscenium
that staged your body’s decline.
Your body was assuaged by opiates of hope.
Somewhere above the noxious air
we sought repair from change:
the steady pulse of a vaster calm
keeping in, keeping out,
a colander that culls the marmalade of time
this moment and that one
preserved crystals of candied ginger.

Greta’s gifts:
slightly too large to pass through colander holes
slightly too whole to dissolve
and so with us  still

Grandma's Table

It was a stretch to rest my chin on the altar
of grandma’s kitchen table, holy site
of mysterious rites of consumption.
The scent of rendered chicken fat
clung to the corners of corridors
already reeking of damp camphor  --
winter clothes put away each spring,
after the Passover dishes were returned
to the basement.   
Laid to rest.

That spring my mother was dying.
I did not know.
Grandma did not know either but knew enough
to caress my mother’s hair
in a gesture so unlike her, so intimate
that terror filled the room. 

Grandma’s hand on her head,
my mother’s hand grazed the table
aligning the crumbs
into abstract hieroglyphic signs.
Sign systems I could not read then.
Now laid to rest.

Cookie crumbs redolent of lemon
splayed on the table, testament to what
an almost spring day in Detroit
thirsting for the light
 might almost say.

Stinson Suite

I.    Sweet Stinson

Behind me low tide unveils
the silt-down soil where egrets perch
and scan the sand for food.
The estuary offers up its secrets of the past
fossil, shell, and glass
Around the corner
the wider rush of  tide
reveals its omnivorous maw.
The law of the sea, its treachery,
no longer veiled under
seductive lacey foam.

II.  Redtailed Hawk

When poised most light
most ether
extruence of the air itself
most focussed
on a beak down-dive
to cold carrion.
When most disembodied
most ready to disembowel
the dead deer
distended on bright meadow
eyes rolled back beyond the light.

III.   Egret at Twilight

Snowy egret
pale hook of neck
frail appearance
belies its fiercer fight
for sustenance,
its tensile flight
beyond the rookery
and natural preserve.
This wader- bird
Great White Egret
my sign of immanence
wears a wary eye.


Margaret Brose is Professor Emerita of Literature and Italian Studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz.   She was elected “Ms. Hyberole” by her high school graduating class, and has been writing, teaching, and translating poetry ever since.  She earned her M.A and Ph.D. degrees at Harvard University.  Margaret has received numerous fellowships, teaching awards, and prizes for her books on poetry, and for her own poetry and translations.  She also teaches courses for the UCSC Osher Lifelong Learners Institute [OLLI). She is a member of the Board of Directors of Santa Cruz Shakespeare.

In Celebration of the Muse
Jean Walton Wolff
Patrice Vecchione
Dena Taylor
Lisa Simon
Dee Roe
Joanna Martin
Cindy Knoebel
Rosie King
Helene Simkin Jara
Kate Hitt
Clifford Henderson
Carolyn Brigit Flynn
Sigrid Erro
Margaret Brose
Carol Brendsel
Barbara Bloom

Featured Artist
Shelby Graham


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