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Sample Poems by Marianna Hofer

Scenes from the New World
Suddenly the trick comes to you
after years of not getting it.
Whatever kept your fingers from
the pattern, the order, of
a single braid down your back
has gone.  Without thought
you separate, then twist
the hair together, don’t even
need a mirror anymore.
The field of Queen Anne’s lace
moves with all kinds of bees,
fragile tan, tiny ice blue
and Monarch butterflies.
The dense blooms, a widowed
grandmother’s doilies, shift
in waves under the wind,
set loose a scent of
vanilla and dust, dry
but sweet on the bright air.
You sweep the floor, wash
the dishes, weed the garden,
buy groceries, learn to use
a large kitchen knife
without mishap.  In those
constant tasks, the need to
do them again, you flourish.
The second floor sleeping
porch holds a white wicker
rocker, a small cot, a green
table.  You stare out through
the screen, the tiny grids
blur the trees just enough
there’s no sharp edges.
Dragonflies, shiny blacks, reds,
greens, hover thickly, ride
the quick air, dart
away and vanish.
A house on a busy street,
the yard untended for
at least twenty years.
Grapevines canopy trees
stunted and hobbled,
long past producing
much of anything.  But
you find one loaded with
small knobby yellow apples
that shine against the dark
cavern the center all
of this has become.  Where
hollyhocks, pale creams
and pinks, glow at
the edges.  And
raspberries, dark
and sweet.  All you need
do is make your way
in the debris and
the undergrowth.
All you need do
is plunge in.

Blue Pears

The ten thousand things
stand in the doorway 
to a new world, solid
scarlet and green seckel
pear in hand, sunlight
ripe through a back
kitchen window.
Dropped from empty
second floor apartment
walkways, shadows spill
across your way down
narrow oil stained alleys,
disguise windchimes you
can hear but not locate,
sound that rolls over
the edges of fire escapes.
The new world revels
in a vibrancy that
crops up then fades
without second thought.
A back kitchen window
again.  A just ripened
seckel pear in hand,
you bite hard, break
resilient skin, spill juice,
expose seeds as fossilized
teardrops embedded in
the white grainy flesh.
More pears, blue now
from the faded light,
sulk in the dark
bowl.  You memorize
the color and feel
of ripe, reach for
the next pear all this
afternoon, no place
else to be.

The Morning Paper Can Save Lives

One day you recognize
part of your life has
vanished, gone around
the corner never
to return.  What makes
this happen isn’t
the point here. What
happens next is.  After
the shock and all
wears off.  After
you stop falling to sleep
at odd hours while
voices in another room drift
into your dreams. When
you hear in the alarm
clock’s buzz ‘This is
the new life.  Make
something of it.’
You shut it off, hear
the neighbors bang about
in their kitchen across
the way, get the paper, read
how the tree of heaven, like
any good weed, can withstand
most insects or disease, grow
fast, straight, true.  Then
in thirty years, at
the height of a windstorm,
drop onto the house.
You understand perfectly,
know intimately this world
abounds with that kind of
surprise, how much it
outnumbers the happy ones.
Next you size up
the neighbor’s tree
of heaven, calculate
no matter how it falls,
you’ll be okay
for once.  Still
you consider
slipping the number
of a cheap tree service
in their mailbox.
Five huge crows float over, bank,
land at the top branches
as they do at least six or
seven times a morning.  You
appreciate their silhouettes
against the bright shiny
blue sky, how they take
the sharp edge off it.
They don’t need to find
part of their lives
gone, vanished in a pile
of sawdust and wood chips.
It would be too cruel.
The shock and all.
You slip next door, borrow
the paper long enough to neatly
rip out the article, fold
the paper back up, slip it into
the blue plastic bag, toss it
back on the porch step, set
about fixing breakfast.