In the Storm (April is National Poetry Month)

In the Storm (#NPM )

Firstly, my condolences to all those affected by Saturday’s hellish tornadoes. My thoughts and prayers are with you.

Many of my fondest early memories [as well as imaginative ideas] were born in Houston county among the pine trees and red dirt, particularly a tiny community called Weches.

Some of you may know a few of my characters have roots in Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi – that is not happenstance. Those just happen to be a few of my favorite states.

Again, my heart goes out to those suffering loss and I hope you’ll forgive me for choosing this poem for today.

Confession: My afflictions are bitter-sweet.

In the Storm

I reach for you…

With every crack of thunder

I hear you laugh…

Your smile is every bolt of lightning.

The drops of rain, you touching me,

with unsalted tears…

No more pain; no more regret.

I raise my arms,

as a child beckoning to be held

and it pours.

My grief is washed away by

stinging pellets of a spring rain

Leaving behind a clean slate

with only memories of the most mundane,

most cherished moments of my life.

Credits: I created the heading image (Inside the Storm) from a compilation of images I found at Pixabay. (Thank you Pixabay contributors).

The poem, In the Storm was taken from this twisted book of poems. And… guess what?

For a limited time my partnering experiment with Smashwords lets the reader decide what they will pay. Yep! You decide.

Check it out.

Pilgrimage

Natasha Trethewey @ Library of Congress 2013

Photo Source: Wikipedia Commons

 What I love about this poem is how easily it flows. You don’t have to be a Mississippian, a historian, a scholar or even a poetry fan to appreciate the smooth and simple beauty of Pilgrimage.

Sometimes we get so busy with the day to day ritual that we forget to read and that is a shame. It is also another reason to appreciate National Poetry Month. It serves as a reminder (at least for me) to seek out new poetry, to step away from the keyboard and open a book or a webpage or an audio device and go along for the ride if only for a few moments. This was certainly a ride worth taking.

Pilgrimage

by Natasha Trethewey

Here, the Mississippi carved

            its mud-dark path, a graveyard

for skeletons of sunken riverboats.

            Here, the river changed its course,

turning away from the city

            as one turns, forgetting, from the past—

the abandoned bluffs, land sloping up

            above the river’s bend—where now

the Yazoo fills the Mississippi’s empty bed.

            Here, the dead stand up in stone, white

marble, on Confederate Avenue. I stand

            on ground once hollowed by a web of caves;

they must have seemed like catacombs,

            in 1863, to the woman sitting in her parlor,

candlelit, underground. I can see her

            listening to shells explode, writing herself

into history, asking what is to become

            of all the living things in this place?

This whole city is a grave. Every spring—

            Pilgrimage—the living come to mingle

with the dead, brush against their cold shoulders

            in the long hallways, listen all night

to their silence and indifference, relive

            their dying on the green battlefield.

At the museum, we marvel at their clothes—

            preserved under glass—so much smaller

than our own, as if those who wore them

            were only children. We sleep in their beds,

the old mansions hunkered on the bluffs, draped

            in flowers—funereal—a blur

of petals against the river’s gray.

            The brochure in my room calls this

living history. The brass plate on the door reads

            Prissy’s Room. A window frames

the river’s crawl toward the Gulf. In my dream,

            the ghost of history lies down beside me,

rolls over, pins me beneath a heavy arm.

How I met Maggie and Almost Killed Clara

I was wading in the surf on Matagorda beach one warm, sunny day exchanging dialogue with Clara.

I had known Clara for about ten years and I have to admit, conversing with her was like pulling teeth. I don’t want to say she was dull, but she was too quiet and a tad introverted. Don’t get me wrong, she is a lovely girl. She is smart and pretty and sweet and kind, but she was just too darn nice for the most part. Too calm, too reasonable, too… dull! There, I said it!

Anyway, as I was wading in the surf, dragging my feet (literally to scatter the sting rays) I was thinking how I might kill her. I know that must sound horrible, we had been comrades for so long, but she wearied me. Her unspoiled, hoity-toity, prim and proper, everything by the book personality made me want to send her sailing face down with the outgoing tide. I think she knew it (she has a sixth sense thing, you know) and I figured she wasn’t going to fight me. It wasn’t in her nature. I thought maybe she wanted to die?

I had mulled it over and finally come to terms with the decision when a perky little blonde came running down the beach waving and shouting,

“Hey y’all wait for me.”

Oh my lord, I thought, while trying to ignore the thin, tanned Mississippian’s approach. I quickly shoved Clara toward the incoming wave but her feet were planted too firmly — she didn’t budge, and to my surprise she pushed back!

“Do you know her?” I asked.

Clara shook her head slowly and replied, “No but you do. You met her on a trip to Biloxi once.”

I was speechless.

“Hey, I’m Maggie,” the lady smiled as she looked past me and held out her hand, “you must be Clara.”

I suppose it’s true that opposites attract. I watched Maggie come alive and in doing so she saved Clara.

*This is a story about a story. Clara and Maggie are safe and sound (for the most part) inside a fictional series.

Read about their meeting in Book 1