EPIC Poetry Group: Poet’s Corner — Hollyhocks, Neighborhoods, Sitting

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My Edmonds News presents the latest installment of a new feature, Poet’s Corner, presented by the Edmonds-based EPIC Poetry Group.

Hollyhocks

Hollyhocks stood child high
all along the hedged driveway
made of brown dust as fine as
talcum powder, and soft as
a kitten under bare feet.
Grandad kept his pipes
in a rack on a shelf
and he smelled of
cherry tobacco reaming
out the bowls.
Mac was named after him,
the MacBride’s from Pennsylvania.

The wringer washer in the basement
sloshed clothes into greying
water, then each piece had to be fed
through the fascinating rollers
that swung over the tub and
clicked into place.
There stood a big square Victrola down there,
that had to be cranked up to play a record.
Granddad snored hugely, with a
real whistle on the exhale, and
napped in the cool basement
on a cot with the washer going.

Irrigation channels were dug
in the cherry orchard, enough to
walk in and hoe open as needed.
I remember nothing of meals
or bedtimes, beds or stories.
My mother, who loved me
all my life must have been busy
doing something, as she was
always busy somewhere
while Mac and I were
building a real house
with leftover lumber.

Granddad killed chickens with an
axe blow across their necks laid
on a stump, and we watched in awe
as the chicken flopped.
The smell of boiling water and feathers
must be the plucking that came next,
and Grandma’s soft arms and puffy fingers.

Fragments remain of canning at a factory,
and years of dusty cans of cherries
on basement shelves in Massachusetts.
Now I feel so curious for that place and
that Granddad and Grandma, aproned is all,
seldom visited across the country entire
between Idaho and our home in the east.

Sharon Murfin

~ ~ ~ ~

Neighborhoods

The sound of sirens reminds me
here at this quiet table
looking out on the back yard
the hazelnuts broken open
squirrels dropping them on the skylight
and deck harbingering fall

fires, shootings, car accidents
aggregate within this bunched
up weight of people living together
each seeking out our measure
of square footage of peace
remarkably found between
neighbors close on either side
and by them between neighbors
either side disturbed mostly
by children screeching at play or
outdoor conversations
dinners out back
daylight construction work

the richer the greater
foot-hold of peace
care-taken by tenders
plants dug and trimmed
driveways lengthened
views extended
while inversely
less peace less space
fewer plants weight of neighbor
din of despair and disparity
drives a machine digging away
at the foundations

although pressed by these thoughts
the long arc of time overlays
the details let the empire fail
and the great wave break
over the mammoth coasts
this peace is a remnant
of an age dying
comfort of lawn and tree
fragile by dint of every
other person who
searches for their own good.

Sharon Murfin

~ ~ ~ ~

Sitting

How poems come.
In every object, an awareness.
In every light,
a pierce.
In every living thing,
a presence undeniably alert
to light and weather
growing towards (reaching)
filtering down into smallest root
a semblance of vessels,
and here, also aloft
in my once green body,
now becoming woody,
layering
with every observation
a new skin, however thin
to be counted in years.

Isn’t this enough
to live one life?
To be one shrub?

Sharon Murfin

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Sharon Murfin is a musician, a writer and a music-thanatologist. She received her M.A. in Fine Arts in Education in Missoula, Montana, where she lived before moving to Seattle.  “Writing has been a source of living water,” she says.

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