Ralph Skip Stevens
On the coast of Maine where I live we’re experiencing yo-yo weather. A dreary spring with a mix of warm and chill, sun and rain, is typical, but as I write this it’s almost mid-June and already the talk is of an equally dreary summer. The sun comes out and the yo-yo spins up, then we have two or three days of drizzle with the thermometer in the 50’s and we’re spinning back into March and April. But it suits me as a poet who writes primarily in, and out of, a melancholy humor.
The lake this morning
sleeps without a ripple in
its bed of earth and eel grass.
Loons will row out later from
tiny islands of woven twigs and
sweet rush to wake the surface,
loon chicks riding their backs,
and a breeze will follow.
But now nothing stirs except
what lies below,
like the memories
deep in an old man’s mind.
In memory of Malcolm Donald
My neighbor is going into town
to buy fresh figs. Not plentiful,
fresh figs, in this latitude where
in August the sun ripens a little corn, tomatoes
and warms the barrens long enough
to color the wild blueberries
our bit of continent is famous for.
He wheels an oxygen tank,
stops to catch a breath
before climbing the ramp
from the dock. He talks,
between gasps, of his days
in Algeria, Turkey, Tunisia, where
fresh figs are as thick as the herring
in our northern waters, and
there was a time the local grocers
knew all the trade routes
to golden orchards of the Mediterranean.
But the fig-loving population
has died off, he says, that
used to keep demand pumped up.
Now he waits on market forces
as indifferent to the tongue’s
subtle needs as are these
gouts of air now filing in
to fill the remaining spaces
in his lungs.
©2017 Ralph Skip Stevens
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