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Sample Poems by Liz Abrams-Morley
A lifetime isn't long enough for the
beauty of this world and the responsibilities
of your life.//
Scatter your flowers over the graves, and walk away.
Mary Oliver, " The Leaf and the Cloud"
Melissa plants hearty mums
and grumbles: she would rather
be in Providence.
Five years I give this marriage
she says and the trowel
pierces the cold fall earth,
stabs the brown, wormed earth,
slices and injures the fertile
loamy, sweet-scented earth as she
plants sunbursts of orange
gold and deep blood red,
her shoulders tight with fury.
The graves are many but still
they aren't deep, and the hummingbird's
brief blue hues peek from beneath
orange bells of a trumpet vine,
all the fine sugars of a long,
lush, leafy summer. Roses
fatten and fall; their velvety
petals are all over the thin
sharp blades of impoverished
grass. Winter will be soon,
soon, but not yet.
Soon the white blanket over
troughs and new turned mounds
around the cemetery. Soon
the icy wind, the early dark.
Melissa forces more and more
puddles of color into her yard
in pure defiance and wonders
Why is everything
so damned hard?
Soft dry petals
then spring returns.
I look up from the glint
off the shovel to the glare
in her eyes.
I look up and white clouds
Soon we will be embraced
by red ladybugs—hundreds
migrating staunchly south.
Soft snow will fly.
Remember making cloud animals?
I ask, but she's already
When Mother Was Dying
you sent digital angels, tried
to fill her room with armloads
of pure white light.
Healing, you said. You said,
she might be ready to go
toward it, though
she’d anticipated red-hot, her remains
cast to fire, the desired end she named
years before her body began to betray her.
It was February, and I
watched the snow pick up
ash from the factories,
cover the hospital
windows, walkways, roof
with gray flakes,
a foreshadowing, you’d say now,
but then we thought she might still
relent and choose burial. I wanted
grassy spaces later, a bench by
forsythia maybe, yolk yellow
heralds of spring.
Or I wanted one sandy hill overlooking
teal flocked with spume:
Cape Cod Bay views when I’d visit her
in winter, pines bending away
from salt spray.
I wanted pines, spindly and bent
like Mother became and
like my mother, still beautiful
even as she shifted and picked at
translucent i.v. tubes
watering her in her overheated
cubicle like a hothouse flower.
I wanted to fill her room with flowers.
She wanted the scarlet flame.
Why take up space where you
can make a garden, she’d say,
and, when I tried to bring her
pink peonies, showy purple irises,
fat amber roses and magenta mums:
Don’t leave those. Bouquets are so funereal .
The blanket on her bed was
mute baby-blue. The walls
mental ward green, diluted,
soothing. My mother thrashed,
eyes pinched shut, mind gone finally
to a gone decade. After the fires
we hiked deep into a bog,
into goldenrod and sword grass,
watched a crimson cardinal
prepare to head south. We
opened the box that held all she had
become and flung her
among lush wetland reeds between
a blue ocean and red-tide bay,
toward a bleeding sunset, into
a brazenly painted day’s end.
In A Beginning
who named the beasts—
And didn’t Eve name the musical instruments?
And maybe constellations
giving woman the gift of dreaming
even in this beginning
I like to imagine.
The names of the lost—
(lost names float like confetti)
land in my alternate universe where
slaves in Virginia would be buried
under marble or granite quarried Up North,
Vermont, maybe, stones etched with dates
and taken south mile by slow mile. Instead,
I walk among trees I can’t name,
cast my shadow on graves marked
only by numbered wooden stakes, gray moss,
deer paw prints and a few crow droppings.
Moments like these, when cows low and the mist
hangs so close to the grass they chew,
I cry for language. Violin,
I imagine Eve said when the wind’s string
sang a slow concerto. Flute: the wren’s trill.
I stop at anonymous #18.
Isaiah, I begin, and here, Jacob.