At the Dentist

While having my teeth cleaned I overhear an old lady in another cubicle who says, “My tooth hurt until I called and made this appointment. Now it don’t bother.“ Then, ”I don’t know what to do about it.“

”Why’s that,“ said the dental assistant. ”You’re here now, the Doctor will figure it out.“

”Well I’m ninety and I keep thinking I’m going to die.“

The hygienist and I snicker at the same time on hearing this. It reminds me of my mother in her mid seventies with a broken molar. She wondered if it was worth getting it fixed. She decided to have it pulled, rather than undergo an expensive high tech treatment that would last thirty years.

Then I think about the twenty-two year old gold crown in my own mouth. It’s been sensitive lately. Gold’s awful expensive right now, but if it needs replacing, another gold one should last the rest of my life. Then I smile at my own thought.

One bite at a time I’m becoming an old lady too.

”Put your money where your mouth is, Jennifer,“ I chuckle to myself. But the dentist tells me the crown is fine. I’ve probably been chewing things over a bit too intensely.

Poetry Portfolio – Six Assignments

These are the six poems from my Intro to Poetry course, just completed. They are revisions of poems written for weekly assignments, revised using what was learned.

Deadly Visitor – Revised

You were an uninvited guest
at the house of my mother-
a weasel in the coop,
you entered through a rat hole,
devoured everything you could
then left behind the corpse.

You cannot fool me, death,
you have slipped in before,
seeking sustenance for
your own unstated hunger.
You enter the house at will,
slip by our mortal barricades.

Now you come as a feral cat
sneaking without invitation
through the door as I leave.
You come mewling, purring
to lie on the chest of my lover
while he sleeps, your whiskers
brush his. He stirs, fidgeting
as if to knock you off, but
you have stolen all his air.


Across – Revised
Bone-building element

Some say ashes to ashes
And others dust to dust-
But I say, Here you go Ma,
you’re coming around again
from the detritus of your life.

You’ll be dissolved by rain
and taken up by roots
into the growing blades
of fescues and timothy.
Pasture grasses chewed,
will be digested a second,
third and fourth time too;
first in the rumen,
then the stomachs of the cow
that tears it from the sheath,
churns it up, ferments it
into milk that flows from the udder
to the pipe, the tank, the truck,
the carton- sloshing finally
into the thumb-print
mold pressed glass with
the red flash worn off the rim
from your puckered lips
that sipped from the glass
each day at noon with lunch
while you lingered at the table
completing a crossword.


Visiting the Woods, The Second Spring – Revised

In the clearing oak and maple, soft fir nubs,
wild blueberries throb lime green, cheerful, luminous,
each tipped by one transparent droplet-
a tiny orb reflecting this second spring.
‘Teacher teacher teacher,” an ovenbird calls
where emerald moss hugs cold stones. Nothing moves.

Unseen, cells divide, rootlets stretch into the duff seeking water,
elements dissolve in the damp, spurring soft green growth.

There beneath the white pine and quaking aspen trees
your strewn ashes sustain the wild clintonia’s bloom-
its two broad blades like hands parting after prayer
have thrust themselves through last year’s fallen leaves.
Clintonia’s nodding yellow bells ring no dirge in the drip,
instead they glow, vibrant in the flood of spring-rain sun.
The sing song call of a chickadee hidden away in the green
says this, and only once, “seee meee.”


On Spreading a Body Surfer’s Ashes – Revised

I am returning her unto thee-
casting seaward the sands of her
much as she flung her flesh in life
into thy surge that never rests,
into thy swell that attains the shore,
only to be wrenched away in the froth.
I cede her at last to your embrace,
that you may satisfy her need
to know the push and pull of you.

Your entreaties reached her ear
in the raucous squabble of terns
and booming surge of sea foam,
the suck of sand draining waves.
She was ever faithful to your call.

The salty vibrato of thy breath
pulses now over the ruffled bay
commanding her to thee in death,
and even now her spirit strains
to rejoin the surf suspended sand,
unable to resist your salty seduction.

Shore-bound, I honor her desire,
cast her into the suck of thy surf,
into thy generous swelling folds,
your fluid bosom heaving skyward
as she enters you, sparkling reflected sun-
You move together now with one motion.


Gardens of the Soul – Revised

Now up against the garden wall
only centaurea thrives, sapphire,
the color of my younger eyes,
strong amidst the creeping grass.

I remember how early each spring
we went together in search of plants,
the joy it brought, to buy them for me.
I came home and tucked them in,
and you went on your way. One August,
you offered up a columbine in seed
from your wild yard. I remember
that I said it was too late to plant,
but I was wrong. It’s nodding trumpets
herald humming birds even now
among the ferns you brought me too.

I remember your last October day-
The oak was crimson, restless;
your eyes were wide and dark
as the disks of black eyed susan
just past. You stared hard ahead,
perhaps seeing a time beyond.
I remember your head turned slowly,
as a sunflower faces west at sunset.
I remember your deep eyes seeking,
like the new roots of spring bulbs
planted that fall in cooling soil,
how your last words hung there
weighted with dark sweetness
like nicotiana in summer darkness.

I know now that the striped leaves
of red tulips planted that October
broke the hard ground again this year,
that centaurea once self-sown
can blossom unexpectedly in May,
even in a garden long abandoned.


Afternoon on a Rocky Beach – Revised

Earth here shrugs at times
sending sea-cliff tumbling.
The quiver of sharp-edged rock
humbled, now a heap of rubble
at the headland’s wading feet
where it stands in the brine,
its crusty shins worn smooth
by the surf’s relentless rubbing.

All angles, the cast off cliff
succumbs to the steady press,
the wave induced massage.
No longer vertical, piercing sky
it is submerged, then not,
at the will of the turning earth.
In the wash of tides it lets go,
shedding one grain at a time
to the salty horizontal realm.

© 2010 Jennifer Pierce, All Rights Reserved

Focus

I have a habit of sitting on my deck and meditating on the coming light of day, listening, observing the earth come out of darkness wherever I am. This particular morning I noticed again a small dark shape suspended between the deck post and a nearby tree. It was right in my field of vision in that place of half sky half far hillside where I often see first light strike the land at this time of year. I’d noticed the shape suspended there for several days. It appeared to be a spider in the middle of its orb or possibly a wound up insect dangling within a web. I’d intended to investigate the first time I’d noticed it but had forgotten it each day with the brightening sky.

I was distracted by the heavy mist obscuring Bordeaux tower and the clouds floating off across the top of the far hillside so slowly I couldn’t detect the direction of movement at first. Into my reverie on weather and clouds came a small dark shape. The blob I’d noticed for days and forgotten to investigate was no longer still. I watched it from my seat suddenly jog upward with great speed, then return to its resting place. Then it took off to one side. Always it moved within the same area of space and returned to the same spot. Odd, I thought, thinking of someone jigging for smelts through a hole in the ice. Is a spider fishing? I got up to take a closer look.

The sun was not above the horizon yet. It was the time of morning when color and detail are not yet defined. I stood about six feet from the spot where the movement was and could detect no web, no connecting silk between this bouncing thing and nearby vegetation. I watched for some time as it zipped off and bounded back to the same center.

No answers were visible. I decided to wait for full light, but just as this thought entered my mind I heard a sound. It was the tiniest of high pitched buzzing. It stopped and started. I saw it then. It buzzed as it jigged about. The blob must have tiny wings. Not believing my ears I bent a bit closer. Could I see it? Not really. But each time it moved back to the center, the buzzing stopped.

I resolved to sit back down and wait for daylight to investigate more thoroughly. It seemed impossible that such an insect could always return to hover in exactly the same place. And why was there no wing beat when it returned to the same resting spot in mid air? Certainly it could not hover without beating its wings.

A pair of binoculars is never far from my chair, and I grabbed them. They were focused for a distance farther out. I’d been working on recognizing doves and pigeons from their voice. Focusing the left eyepiece in the growing light I saw clearly tiny wings fanning like a hover fly.The blob was in motion and kept zooming out of my field of view. I twirled the knob for the right eye, focusing on the deck post, the nearest object, closing my left eye to check the right. I was only gone from that plane of motion for an instant. When I returned, the insect was gone. I waited some time, searched around the area, scanned the space nearby, but it was gone.

The thing was a gift I figure. I see it as having been suspended there for me to notice, and once I did, its need to be was fulfilled. It was nothing more or less than a reminder of possibilities- the admonition to stay focused on what is at hand, though I might see it clearly with only half my vision.

© 2010 Jennifer M. Pierce, All Rights Reserved

Myth poem from assignment

Note: Writing a poem about a myth was a real challenge, and not something I would normally write a poem about.

A Case of Treachery

With a thunderbolt, then soft as the breath of life
the dust in Hephaestus’ skillful hand takes shape.
Into the forming clay he gathers Hera’s gift-
a hungry glowing coal with a will to burn.
Like a heated iron when held just right,
it can cauterize a festering wound.

In this way she is born, sent forth to man with an urn to hold.

Smoldering within, she seeks to use the iron’s rising heat
grabs hold the urn, and works the stopper loose,
thinking only of the quenching flow, she hopes
will soothe the smoking sore, thinking no one else will see.

She is engulfed instead by a brilliant flash-
slivers of sinister tinder thrusting outward
are ignited by the heat of her burning need to know.

Everything never wished for illuminates the scene as it flares.
No soothing flood rises to douse the hungry coal.

It is a fearsome blast that scorches all.

Too late.
Too late the stopper stops the jar, and heavy hope stays trapped within.
Pandora stands there shocked, bereft but wiser now.
Forever burned, as Epimetheus’ bride.

© 2010 Jennifer M. Pierce, All Rights Reserved