Monday, February 1, 2010

Lisa Ortiz

Ivory Bill

It's an afternoon of sorting socks,
folding sheets, a meeting
that needs an agenda, a chairperson,
an e-mail that must be composed and here
are your daughters and two friends
second-graders and four-year-olds
at the kitchen table
and with a list in your mouth, you cut apples,
pull a steaming bag of popcorn from the microwave
and the water bill, the situation
with the lawyer
but also the smell of salt and butter
Jonathan apples in August, and at your hip
the damp fuzz of braids, pony tails
light rain outside, a pile at the door
of boots and backpacks.

And why think now about
the ivory bill woodpecker, extinct
and then some hiker
who knew what to listen for
heard its horn-like call, the distinctive double rap
how there are whole clubs of birders now
who walk into the woods searching
for a once ruined thing, return with stories
of echoes and shadows, how one man caught
on camera an image: a ghost of white
in scrubby trees, and how
ornithologists with headphones
in some tiny room
listen so hopefully
to the deep call, the tap, tap.

Things extinguish here
that later you will search for
you will be an old woman, a hiker in the woods
covered in deet and with binoculars heavy on your neck
you will look for skittish shadows:
requests for milk, the swing of braids
the beat of so many hearts like hidden wings
or a small plate of red apple skins
the white part
all chewed out by tiny teeth

-previously published at Litertary Mamma

Satan Is Overcome By Nonresistant Suffering

There have been other martyrs
St. Ludmilla, strangled by a veil
St Medilia with her breasts removed
beheaded saints and saints crucified
upside-down, the way St. Urith's blood
sprang up in flowers.
And for me [ . . . ]

-previously published at The Dirty Napkin

The Spring

I don’t know about the force
that drives the green but it seems that spring
comes as it does like a slap or a cheap gift
a rhyming verse in a glittered card

seems it would lose for me
its methamphetamine rush, its childish tune
for God’s sake I’m a grown woman
here gone weak for a blue fist of delphiniums

or round the corner in the forest
purple flax bursting in a pool of amber light—
should be nothing to me
I should spit or swear

duct tape on the windows
let the answering machine pick it up
knowing the way I know
it all washes down the storm drain

all splashes to the ashy caverns
of a November night and the earth turns cankered
seeds all eaten by beasts the whole thing
tractored over

and so what
that a bunch of buttercups punch up
that the finches are on again in song.
Well, I’ve seen most of this before.

-previously published at ZYZZYVA: The Last Word

Half Moon

Out at dawn to feed the horse
I note in iron light why no poet chooses to write
about the half moon— the moon that grins and waits
rocks coquettishly on her back—she moves me not.

Oh, the full moon, now she is something––
pregnant with metaphor, a crowned huntress
riding o’er the benighted world for love,
the backside of a nymph bathing in an onyx pool,
a poet’s iron discus heart candescent
at the far end of the universe—or—ha—
a sliver of a moon, such an ode to hope,
a crescent so like a lover’s smile, a hook
upon which we may hang a rumpled image
and where it hangs elegant as linen––and

of course a new moon
blinding poet eyes, so we can tramp sightless
and admire in the spiteful dark
our lovely tea-light souls.

But let us write not of this half moon this
early middle age moon, this size 12 moon, an easy moon,
a moon that abides the way I abide, a moon that tarries
the way I tarry here above you in the dawn, half-lit
to see if you will wake and love me still.

-first published in Pictures And Words Magazine

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