As winter looms, my life seems to to go burrow. I see wrinkles in the mirror; this month I turn 70. I am thrown by how fervently I guard the stars even as, finally, rain clouds move into the Pacific Northwest. We watch our California neighbors burn and endure the smoke and loss we lived with all summer. Then come memories. In 2018 my new collection of poetry How I Learned to Be White will come out from Antrim House. Many of these poems have appeared on Verse Virtual. "Star Guard" is one of them. . Website: triciaknoll.com
To Talk of Gold
I tuck this memory in a childhood pocket
with other summer ones – like flying
off the handmade swing in the oak
onto my back, my wind knocked out.
I thought I died.
This second story has me on a plodder mare
from a rental stable, a horse for a little girl
to ride deep-dust trails in Estes Park.
Eight hours to Long Lake and back.
I follow my father on his sorrel named
Horse-mad, I kick my cowgirl boots
on a horse that would not trot
and never away from the barn.
A nameless paint I loved
Hours into dry pines, picking
our way down a full-sun ridge
studded with boulders and columbine
gone to seed, Lucky starts prancing,
nickers. My paint jingles and sidesteps.
I wake from a rocking doziness.
My father pulls up. Bits clang.
Horsey nerves makes the saddles creak.
A cougar on one granite boulder looks
down on us, hunches, leaps and stretches
over us across the trail into August’s
tall dry grass. Tawny gold into gold.
Slow-motion gone to gold.
May nothing take my breath away
again like this pure wild gold
until the dangerous day I die.
The Star Guard
I didn’t sign up to guard American flags or burn bras.
When the Buddhist monk set himself on fire,
I wanted an extinguisher.
This morning found me whacking roses,
vicious with loppers. My car in for a tune-up.
Big work - guarding air, water, birds,
rights of shaking people in detention,
fearing the Civil War come round again.
A red, white and blue sign out front
has words where a flag’s stars go –
In Our America.
Phrases in the stripes
to lives with needs.
Stars to guard.
Someone has written a poem about everything under the sun.
Pepper grinders, black holes, the tugs of gravity,
Marie Curie. My script is rhytides, wrinkles
that accrue with interest after slow investments.
Sleep creases. Water logs. How harm makes skin
lax like rubber bands too long in a drawer.
When blogs name what is written on an old face, advice
turns to treatment. Injections. Repairs. Hydration.
Physicians promise to unwrite the written, make long fibers
short, decompress what stretches a smile, frown, grimace.
My manuscript differs. Turn to page 24,797,
days add up as personal history channels.
Whatever the puckered Greek root of a word,
I follow rhythmic tides as time flows,
crinkles that carve the becoming truth
of life’s winds, waters, and gravities.
like how I slept once with a friend I hadn’t seen
in fifty years, on the blue side of a silk pillow.
Or ran into headwind from the north scouring
Mt. St. Helen’s ash down a lonesome beach
© 2017 Tricia Knoll