Ann Neuser Lederer
A whir of two mowers from angled directions
muffle her mutter.
We cannot know what she wanted.
Her figure wanders farther away
towards a leaf flecked path
speckled in yellow.
It is all so lovely—yet—we do not know
Her few words masked by the mowers’ motors,
troops of tribes bedecked in red feathers,
pointing their spears.
What was it she whispered?
Was it for our ears only?
Was its mystery serious?
Would it reveal all secrets?
Once, a phone rang, startling us awake.
We would say it had been in the middle of the night,
but really it was the dead dark hour of morning.
We had thought she would live to be old,
but then, at that moment, we doubted those words
On the flat of our yard,
Dad shoveled until
the dark, crusted grass showed.
He packed the dirty snow onto the edges,
then hosed and coated
the whole mess until it froze.
I remembered all this
from the black and white photo
with scalloped borders:
three rag-tag girls
in hand-me-down skates,
on their very own rink.
In my mind, I still nimbly swirl
and turn, slamming into
the rocky rim to stop.
Stopping was always the hardest,
especially in dull double runners strapped to boots,
or heavy boy's hockeys with crumpled ankles.
Though I never got good, I was joyous,
nights particularly, alone sometimes
in the shadows of swaying porch light
and ringed moon.
The blade's cut was a long sigh, a melody;
the sleek surface renewed by the spray
like an empty lake soon scissored by a swan.
Keep an Eye Out
The crack was loud and quick:
The foolish fishermen were blamed
by the rescuers for ignoring warnings.
Once again, someone fell in.
Ancestors practicing caution survived.
Who carries a poncho in his pack
in the desert inherited those genes.
A man who loved rain had his bed moved
closer to the window, to view his saplings.
The Sycamore roots
suck moisture from the creek beds.
The man who loved rain lives on.
The gone reawaken when someone remembers,
Maeterlinck said, or something like it.
For a brief whiff, they live.
This goes on until no memories survive.
Here, it is snow. A blanket muffles sound.
Under their coverlets, the gone, as I call them,
Within the fog cluster, scents of rain:
pending, or once.
The Pale Girls
Lit from within by glow-worms,
their waxen skin thins.
They flicker, like music:
soft strings, then vibrant.
The next day they are gone,
their breasts filled with milk.
The pond is ringed with lovers,
each bench a universe.
With the powdered rain, rings
propagate on the pond surface.
Yesterday, one of the girls
toured the duck pond.
The leaves were greener
than she had believed.
The winds more subtle.
The birds' sounds sharper.
She noticed each motion.
She watched each lover on each bench.
The Wood Fire
Sticks from flung branches
scratch the windows like cats.
Bones crack on the ice pond
beyond these walls.
Someone is traveling up
a glazed mountain
without a coat.
This is the journey
you once thought you'd be taking.
You draw the sweater a little closer
around your shoulders.
You try not to pry your eyelids open
when they fall.
The red heart of the fire is deceptive.
The outer edges of this room are cold.
The sinister waves of heat flee towards the ceiling.
You are too tired to climb the stairs to bed
The last firefly of August
leaps to my attention.
Now I see you
I see you,
Slowly the contrast dims.
Like green, and the berry red
in color blind tests
one hardly notices the difference.
On meeting with one I claimed
to be my only hope,
and wishing to tell all this,
all I could mention was a squirrel,
flattened in the road, yesterday,
who only a minute before
had tried so daringly to get across.
St. Joseph stands alert, on guard
in my furtive cathedral.
Vigil lights flicker,
stars in a perfect orbit.
Oh bones of old kings.
Oh tapestries, swaying.
Oh oppressive stones and unnoticed ivories.
Oh blood of the lamps, and velvet Latin,
Once, I was a small girl
dressed in white lace,
and rustling the universe.
When I disturbed the worshipers
by fainting, they opened
thick oak doors
and gave me milk to drink.