Shannon P. Laws
Lining of My Mind
The future comes to me
Premonition stands outside the window, framed to be seen,
stands politely ‘til the door opens
the right door
at the right time
Tea or coffee?
A blanket for your lap?
It’s cold outside where time weathers
as a pacific swirl over the peninsula
hooked on peaks
It rains in my house.
The fire is out.
Wet paper see-throughs to wooden table.
Drips creep across the low areas, finds them all
--both the dark and the hidden.
I’m swept up into this ungraspable moment Future comes to visit.
Somewhere close by
another turns the channel,
a person adds soap to the wash,
a cat sighs in the window--
all in silent exclamation.
What we desire more than seasons or weather
is the comfort of being a stranger, more so with ourselves.
It is better not to know.
So I wait.
Wait for something that vanishes as soon as it arrives.
It’s appearance not unlike mowed lawn
--the stalk of the dandelion snapped.
It’s there. We know it.
Whether we walk on it or not.
The merciless motor hums in the distance and every so often
a breeze from the south carries the leaky-green odor of grass.
Lady Takes a Bath
The answer to my question rests in the tone of my cat giving herself a bath. Sandpaper tongue smooths out the rough edges of her frame. Saliva holds down the rebel cow-licks. Lying in sunbeams of the living room, atop the paisley cushion on the file cabinet, this is her space.
Loudly she processes every section. I hear her over my reading.
Today she investigates those piles of apples on the lawn, is startled by the next two plopping into wild grass tuffs. The path of the speckled moth is discovered leading to the Black-Eyed Susan, blooms frozen by overnight frost, crinkled and breaking, in the next door yard.
Bees still bounce on the lavender row by the driveway. The lady takes a dust bath to the tune of hums collecting last of the season’s nectar. Now, it’s early evening. She stretches out fully on the braided kitchen rug ready for sleep.
It flakes off my shoulder when I bend down
Black trails my movement
Dark spots in the corner of my eye
let me know it’s still there
A reminder of the charcoal thread
that ties me to my past
whisps of whispers from
that one night long ago
The hurt bleeds out
over the decades
dribbles into a bucket
deeper than my lifetime will hold
A pain oozes out of me
weeps down the bark of me
black like sap
I am a net
tossed into the sea.
Weights in the corner
drag me down.
One hard jerk
secures the catch.
Winch and pulley
draw me back.
Wet and heavy with
dinner and debris
If I could be used
for something different
A net to hold fruit,
a wall hanging,
broken apart, unraveled,
re-knitted into a sweater
But I am a fish net
thrown out to the storm
is caught between spaces.
Voice on the Trail
~Then I saw what the calling was: it was the road I traveled,
the clear time and these colors of orchards, gold behind
gold and the full shadow behind each tree and behind each
slope. ~Muriel Rukeyser (1913-1980)
All the voices of the Wood called “Shannon!”
But it was soon solved; it is nothing, it is not
my real name.
My real name is written on a stone kept warm by eternal
embers I am still too cold to hold.
Words like “Real” and “Endure”
Sound like “Health” and “Hell”
Then I see what is calling, it was the road
I traveled, miles behind, warning me of the FORK
The sound bounces forward, then back, right-side-down
warns of mud ahead―not to me, but to anyone.
And at last I saw where the road lies wide,
and clear orchard rows, easy fruit and bundled grass
roll along a tan, green and blue landscape.
Not for me. Not for me. Not for me.
I came into my clear being uncalled, alive, and sure
of all but what I see.
Nothing speaking to me, none know my real name―
not the owl, the fish or the elk, but I offer myself
to the strangers and all is well
Strangers we all are.
I know them well.