Crosswords

Across
1. Bone-building element

Some say dust
others ashes.

I say it’s just the earth
coming around again
from eroded elements
attracted to the roots of plants
through ionic forces.

Elements taken up with the rain
into the green growing blades of fescues and timothy,

into pasture grasses
eaten then digested a second, third and fourth time too;
first in the rumen, then the stomachs of the cow
that tore it from the sheath,
chewed it into a slurry, ruminated it,
fermented it into the constituents of milk.

It flowed first to the udder then the the pipe, the tank, the truck, the carton

sloshing finally
into the the thumb-print mold pressed glass
with the red flash worn off the rim
from the friction of my mother’s puckered lips.

She sipped it slowly with her lunch each day at noon.

It warms in the glass
while she studies a crossword puzzle,
endlessly searching for exactly the right word.

© 2010 Jennifer M. Pierce

Sea Urchins

I receive an unexpected package  in the mail today from my oldest sister. The mail here is on island time, like everything else, and besides, I don’t go check it very often. My birthday is weeks past. That’s odd I think, turning the package over, tearing into the puffy manila envelope. I wonder what she’s sending me? I think of some old family letters, stuff my cousin gave her. Then I reach inside and find a card made from plain brown paper stock with a rough red heart on it. A Valentine I say, Aha. On the card are these words:

Timeless latitudes
Sisters listening
Remembering

February 2010
Love, Sue

The book is Wladen by Haiku,  written by Ian Marshall. It’s a most extraordinary book. On the inside flap of the front jacket are these words:

“Although Thoreau would never have encountered the Japanese haiku tradition, the way in which the most important ideas in Walden find expression in haiku-like language suggests that Thoreau at Walden Pond and the haiku master Basho at his “old pond” might have  drunk at the same well.”

I smile knowing
Sisters listening
Echoes sounding time

As I take my afternoon walk along the old Danish plantation road that hugs the shore of Leinster Bay, I think about gifts. I think about siblings. The word precious comes to mind. I walk looking inward, spot a fragile bleached sea urchin shell the size of a quarter and pick it up. I hold it gently in my palm and walk on. This is precious, I think, remembering the black nubbly spines of tiny living urchins I have seen, nestled among the rocks in the shallows of another bay. I think, not all survive to have spines that speak of elegant  ebony chopsticks. And then my mind moves on to context.

I think, without the creature, this object in my hand is just another pretty thing. I think, without my family I would be nothing, my outer shell is so far removed from what’s inside. How would anyone know the woman on the shore could be a poet?

She stoops
curiously sipping
the pond’s fluid edge

© 2010 Jennifer M. Pierce, All Rights Reserved