EPIC Poetry Group Poet’s Corner: Security, Worship, Medicine, Going Home

Here’s the latest installment of Poet’s Corner, presented by the Edmonds-based EPIC Poetry Group.

Security 

My grandfather let me play with his hair,

long oiled threads of white from temple to nape

I could style into a cute bob that touched his jaw.

Then he’d dance for me, all elbows and knees,

before slicking it back again with the swash

of a Douglas Fairbanks come home.

 

His whistle was sharp as a factory,

two working fingers between his lips.

His polar blue eyes could scope an eagle

from across the bay, and deep in the hills

he shot the black bear I napped on, stroking silky

power into my dreams. It did not resist

my peachy fist.

 

Around its nubby ears I gripped the certainty

that I was safe, a child who could sleep

on the back of a beast.

Susan Pittman

~ ~ ~ ~

Worship

We smoked to Athena’s temple on borrowed scooters,

Easily passing through storms of olive trees.

 

From center stage at rocky Epidaurus

we offered only Broadway harmonies.

 

Yammering bells woke us in Napflion

and crackles of loudspeaker priests,

but in our rosy-cheeked cabin,

lemon and yesterday’s sweat on our sheets,

we heard the waves slapping lazy on the hull.

your khaki zipper whistled at it all

 

as you slipped away for pastries and chocolates

and a silver necklace for my birthday.

 

I keep it polished clean on my throat,

wrapped where a prayer might have been,

if only we had known.

Susan Pittman

~ ~ ~ ~

Medicine

I pour amber medicine for my pains

on rocks, then sip the talismanic cure.

It cools my burning throat, but fear sustains.

 

The sting of being left behind remains;

the path ahead is weedy and unsure.

I pour amber medicine for my pains.

 

At times my swollen tongue is trapped in chains

self-fastened. An ego pierced is a poor

excuse for the misery it sustains.

 

Exhale resistance, the yoga guide declaims,

and treat yourself as if this life were pure.

I pour amber medicine for my pains.

 

Revolving earth neither waits nor explains

its cryptic course; I’ve no choice but to endure

alone, avoiding comfort that sustains

 

Until your voice transits on a wintry day,

along a glowing wavelength of azure.

I show amber medicine to the drain.

We loved. And that certainty sustains.

Sussan Pittman

~ ~ ~ ~

Going Home

Portuguese stew in Provincetown, rugosa dunes,

my husband’s grave. I touch the stone and say goodbye.

The postcard where our children played recedes,

same for envy and regrets, as I drive away.

 

Rewinding pink dreams in the headlights, foolish dares

in the dark, reviewing shredded heartaches and joys

like the unraveled tires and dead deer that memorialize

the scarred shoulders of Pennsylvania.

 

Ohio drains the shame of a foolish girl who thought she knew,

Indiana chugs side to side with trucks and whining trains.

In Illinois, a tender plague of corn advances to the parking lot.

I remember a kiss, warm with butter and salt.

 

Jittery fears of hitting the wrong beat desiccate

in the Iowa sun. Bikes on painted vans headed to the meet

and giant quilts on billboards cue a Meredith Wilson song:

What the heck, you’re welcome, join us at the picnic.

 

Humming past years of Nebraska wheat and history,

the horizon clears: This land has room enough for me.

The dog, unconcerned, snoozes on memory foam.

Colorado reveals expectations of self-sufficiency.

 

We plow the night on unlit roads, no safety bars.

I’m on my own. The last time I was up at three

was the back porch one August, comet-watching

with my girl. Now she fusses at me.

 

Alert for sudden deer or elk, I steer each curve

determined to arrive. She plates up scrambled eggs

framed by volcanic canyon cliffs,

with a geography lesson on the side.

 

Utah’s glorious columns reach for the sky,

compounds of trailers hide dusty lives unseen.

I hear my grandfather’s voice drift by and remember

monument tours and chapters of Perry Mason.

 

Idaho offers no tenderness. No bathroom here,

warns the station sign. But the truck stop waiter

calls me brilliant for ordering a beer, says

“I like the way you think,” and smiles.

 

The high desert of eastern Oregon is almost there

then a final drop into trees I know, bursting green

overhead and out the window still rolling on,

the royal blue Columbia. Good God,

 

Where have you been? Where have I been?

For long miles, I trace her silk, I can taste her,

until I turn north at last to where the cool Salish water

sings, the stones and seaweed of my dreams.

 

I unpack the car and vacuum out the miles,

erasing the trail, which doesn’t matter.

Kids and dogs splash as the Wenatchee horns

into its dock. Above all, the mountain, still silent.

Susan Pittman

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Susan Pittman has worked as a newspaper reporter, an office manager for a psychologist, and a steel broker. She currently teaches at Edmonds College and lives in Lynnwood with her dog, Marco (Polo). Her poetry has been published in several small print and online journals. She invites you to visit her website at susanpittmanwriter.com.

 

 

 

2 Replies to “EPIC Poetry Group Poet’s Corner: Security, Worship, Medicine, Going Home”

  1. Thank you for sharing these deep-hearted meditations on the travels through your life. Wonderful imagery, especially of Greece.

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