For You Have I Stayed My Wanderlust

Wild geese exult beneath the far-flung

jewel case of winter firmament;

Leaving you for home, our tallowed

and flickering tenderness is a book I close

unmarked and in mid-narrative.

Liberated, rejoicing in the late hour,

I gun the truck over the ruts, ease it over

the bridge, yielding on the round-about

to the lagging, cattle-laden eighteen

wheeler before the straightaway

of three miles south. Once I danced

in the eiderdown snow, flapped my small,

short wings in oceanic air, and then I

descended – I had seen my mother

in the kitchen, drawing a knife over her

wrist like someone quartering an orange.

For her, I stayed my wanderlust in the way

of the poplars, putting down thin black roots,

pushing up in spindled volition, climbing

the ladders of day, eye-lashing the moon

with myriad silver leaves then parched,

dying back. The barrio houses I pass now,

the river of Spanish that flows beneath their

foundations, the patient, small golden windows, 

the furred tongues of the doorsteps

are themselves without premeditation;

they refuse to be torn down. I am not Ophelia

or Evangeline: I am drunk on straight,

ever-clear asphalt. No sign of badged

and drowsing watchmen beaming across

the dark envelope of the fields; I gamble all

then, accelerating until I am a blown glass rose

in a delirium, lifting itself from the cradle

of a cloistered hand.



Some say melting icebergs measure

the remaining hours of man,

as do fish that beach themselves,

young birds that falling, cleave the air,

but how is the time between two

measured if not in a comely dance of hours,

the mating and waiting game

of the leviathan of the singing seas,

those that rise, arc and take the plunge;

so do you and I arc and plunge,

splayed sea stars

in a valse triste.

For here the clouds explode and our world

as we knew it ends

so that it is white, white and cold,

the highways like blackening scars

across the landscape, intertwining

chasms for those

imperiled by a storm.

I stand at your bedside

where your hand withers;

now you are an olive tree

and I am a swan,

vigilance revived,

in a coat moon bright. 

What is it that comes this way?

The furnace clicks on and off,

the power lines sag;

we drive the trucks

to groove a way out, a way in –

looking back

I am here,

we were there,  and all, all

is changed.

Ava, Diving

Even as the oaks lining the street

set their jade kimonos on fire,

the old woman in grey shorts and t-shirt

abruptly slumped over at the nurse’s station,

her head to her chest;

we wheeled her back to her room,

where others dreamed, aluminum frames

tenting the sheets above their parchment legs.

We tucked her in and set her John Denver CD

to replay; at first her cheeks flushed

and she spoke a muted sibilance –

her hands mimed swan-flight,

a private dialect of folding towels.

Across the hours the cards slapped down,

ace of time in spades, queen of aching hearts;

with self-consoling moans she breached and dove

into the white sea of the bed,

mermaid with pale hair streaming back.

I felt one tail fluke and saw she was burning up,

called the nurse; a mothering seagull placed

liquid morphine on her tongue;

She labored on, bearing down

to push the dark, slick whale calf out;

we came and went like wraiths in a squall,

changing the wet sheets,

swabbing out her mouth.

I kept a vigil far into the night

while she traveled to the pier she saw

in sun-lanced haze,

where dark-haired women waited

with scuffed valises to embark

in split cocoons of boats

made of silk and light,

to the shore of a pulsing Orient

of still skyscrapers and stopped traffic

waiting for the black butterflies

of last breath.

I sang to her and know not what she heard,

and pulled myself away,

lying down in my metal bed, my sentinel’s ear

cocked, touching that thin and peeling membrane 

between our rooms

keeping back the midnight sea.

In 2010, after a disabling fall from a horse, poet Jenne’ R Andrews gave up ranching in Colorado and returned to a full-time writing life begun in the 70s. Her poems have appeared in Belletrist Coterie, The Adirondack Review, The Ontario Review, The Seneca Review, The Colorado Review, The Lamp in the Spine, and many other journals and anthologies; her collections include Reunion (Lynx House Press), The Dark Animal of Liberty (Leaping Mountain Press) and In Pursuit of the Family (Minnesota Writers Publishing House, edited by Robert Bly). She completed the Colorado State University M.F.A. in 1988 and is a literary fellow of the National Endowment of the Arts. She posts reviews of contemporary poetry to her blog Loquaciously Yours and work in draft to La Parola Vivace.

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