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 have enjoyed two poetry residencies at VCCA (January 2011; March 2015). Please visit my website:www.2hweb.net/penhart and my blog: http://penhart.wordpress.com New books: Recycling Starlight; The Resonance Around Us http://mountainsandriverspress.org/TitleView.aspx
Some nights I visit the mountains,
called by the voice of the wind
fluting through old growth forests,
and I find myself lying on the lip
of a cliff, the night sky wedding me
to stone, stars falling through me.
Some nights I lie there till dawn,
becoming something other—some
elemental animal of fire whose
memories flare and go out, leaving
me like ashes that will wash down
the rock face to earth.
Some say I only dream these
mountains, that they are not real,
and no beast born of fire can live.
I tell them I have been there,
that the cliff bears the mold of
my face, and that my flesh still
smolders with the light of dying
stars, though it does not hurt to
burn my way back home.
What Cannot Be Touched
What cannot be touched wants to be
noticed, invited to the party it knows
we are hosting in the court of dreams
we enter night and day.
What cannot be touched grieves
it has no substance, yet feels our hands
drift through it as it migrates toward
the mystery of incarnation—a promise
spun from some element we hold dear—
flesh, perhaps, or stone. Or the skein
of water falling through the sky
even as it seeks to become fire.
And we who long for friction—that
confirmation that we live and love
each other as we would be loved—
open and close our arms, wanting
to hold and be held by something
we can’t name but cast upon the winter
air with each white breath that steams
from the warm bellows of our lungs.
Have You Heard?
Have you heard that a heart, carried
from the dead to the dying and grafted
into the sterile cavity of a new thorax,
may pump alien memories into its host?
Arms don't forget what they have held,
knees still bend to where they have knelt,
breasts whisper sex, milk, suck, while
testicles hold seeded memory.
Outside the window, a squirrel crouches
on a sycamore branch, the setting sun
illuminating fine hairs that frame the
strange fruit of its dangling oval tail.
Remember the fantasy about a girl
who, when an ape's brain took root
in her fragile skull, dreamed swinging
through the canopy of a rainforest?
Every cell is a memory, all bodies
colonies of atoms archiving moments
that flicker as they broadcast in the
wave length of the flesh.
Credit: All poems from my newest collection, The Resonance Around Us (Mountains and Rivers Press, 2013).
©2016 Penny Harter