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
Formerly, we pressed palm to palm,
then counted all our fingers before we
splayed them wide to let in daily light.
We combed each other’s hair with shards
of shells from a long gone shore—shells
ghosting now as fossil scars in slate.
Formerly, you listened while I sang,
and you scraped tunes out of broken
harp strings while I danced all night.
That’s the way it was, the way we passed
the time, swaying beneath the shadows of
giant ferns under a rusting moon.
And that’s the way it goes tonight
like Ring-Around-a-Rosy, still playing on
the lawn within the holdings of my skull.
Across the Autumn Field
Who comes across the autumn field, bearing
an armful of dry corn stalks like a woman
might hold an infant, cradling them in the
slant light that cloaks his hunched shoulders?
And why is he walking toward you, his
work shoes sinking into the dust, while you,
barefoot and rooted, a leafless sapling at the
field's edge, can only wait to receive his gift?
Behind him, a mule pulls a harrower, erasing
his path, breaking the soil to render it fertile,
turning dry clods over to ready them for
storm clouds now billowing on the horizon.
Beyond the field is a woods, and at its center
a plot for green burial, and suddenly you know
that the approaching stranger only wants to
welcome you, hand you his spent stalks with
their story, their knowing that what enters
the earth will emerge again, green and tender,
and that the sapling you have become will
flourish new leaves when the rains arrive.
after the painting Just An Illusion by Meganne Peck
We were in the garden, the man and I,
our bodies twining in green shade
as if we were the two vines wrapped
around the trunk of that tree we were
never to touch.
One day those vines began to move,
became a glittering beast, scales gleaming,
my name on its forked tongue. And when
the bough bent down, I plucked just one--
it almost fell into my palm—just one
red fruit whose pale flesh kissed me with
ambrosia, sweeter by far than the man’s
touch, and I wanted—how I wanted—more.
When the man joined me there beneath
the tree, the serpent loving me, I offered him
the fruit. He ate, then turned away from me
and howled. I saw then we were naked, fell
to my knees and buried my breasts beneath
my fall of hair, my fear blighting the blossoms
that had blessed my feet.
When I felt the man leaving, I knew that I
must follow him down that path beneath
our sheltering trees. And I knew who waited
beyond the guarded gate, smiling a welcome,
hands ripe for the harvest.
©2014 Penny Harter