I'm a poet and writer living for the past six years in the South Jersey shore area. I moved here from North Jersey in 2009 after the 2008 death of my husband William J. (Bill) Higginson, author of The Haiku Handbook, to be closer to my daughter and family. I'm a mom, grandma, and sometimes poet-teacher for the NJSCA. My work has appeared in many journals, and in twenty-some books (including chapbooks). I read at the Dodge Festival in 2010, and was in residence at VCCA in January of 2011. Here are some links to my newest books, my website (which hasn't been updated since Bill's death), and my blog:
New books: Recycling Starlight; The Resonance Around Us http://mountainsandriverspress.org/TitleView.aspx
One Bowl: [a prizewinning e-book] http://tinyurl.com/kca3fpr Visit my web site: www.2hweb.net/penhart
Visit my blog: http://penhart.wordpress.com
Seeing Familiar Faces
It happens often, this seeing familiar
faces on passers-by, sometimes spanning
time and place, as when a friend’s face
suddenly shifts from youth to age,
then back to our mutual now.
Sometimes it’s our own face we see
reflected in another, a certain slant
of the eyes, tilt of the chin, angle of
a glance that meets ours, then shifts
back to join its own parade.
Yet there are those among us who can’t
remember faces, are unable to recognize
even those they know. Perhaps for them
time has moved ahead so far that all has
shifted, fallen into the relative unknowable.
After my husband died, in dreams that grew
less frequent over time, I saw his face receding,
washing away into light. No dream mirror to
show me who I had become, no blind hands
reaching out to teach me my own features.
It is all one—calcium blooming into a nose,
shaping cheekbones, sockets for the eyes.
The faces we seek are those we want to love
or be loved by, even that stranger on whom
we are suddenly spilling the story of our life.
Just past the Solstice here in this corner
of the Northern Hemisphere, light is hard
to come by, drops too soon behind a tangle
of bare branches or hides behind buildings
as scarlet fades to gray on the horizon.
Folding into ourselves, our arms warming
our own ribs, we want to wear light,
to drape it like a shawl over our cold
shoulders or wrap it like a scarf
around our vulnerable necks.
And yet, when we watched the first snow
together from a dark room, cocooned in
a nest of quilts as flakes spiraled and fell
beneath the streetlights, we held each other
close, accumulating light.
Waking, you look at the clock.
Not yet sunrise, but you know
morning is breaking over the sill
of your still blinded window.
You yawn and stretch,
remembering last summer’s waves
breaking against your side, while
your planted feet kept sinking
into sand, little swales forming
around them as if the sea floor
would swallow you. Soon light is
seeping under the blinds, waves and
particles falling from our local star,
and somewhere a farmer gathers
fresh eggs for your breaking.
Some eggs are older than others,
won’t sink to the bottom of the pot
but tilt, air pockets above their
shrinking yolks buoying them,
and if they float, they’re rotten.
Last one in is a rotten egg!
And last one up is, too, you think,
as you levitate from the bed, swim
through the chilly air toward the
bathroom, fill the sink with hot
water, and bend to wash your face.
©2015 Penny Harter