Four OLLI poets received
awards for six poems at the Poetry Society
of Virginia's 2012 award ceremony. Four of the
winning poems may be read below. The fifth poem,
Debra Adler's A
Small Gesture, appeared in E-News on May
4. The sixth poem, Jan Bohall's Hidden
Memory, is in the May 11 edition of
The Marsh Hawk and My Mother-In-Law
They faced each other across the room,
neither moving, both antiques, one barely
living, the other never having been at all,
and both weathered in that particular way
that others of their sort are inclined to do.
He was already there when she was born,
the Marsh Hawk was, and she knew he
would survive her, hanging there mounted
and framed for posterity, one eye fixed
in an eternal state of daunting readiness.
We never discussed him, his origins or
value, brushstrokes on branches with tufts
of moss, his imposing masculinity in her
watercolor songbird sanctum, the future,
or the stark inevitability of his disposition.
She died on a Wednesday peacefully,
her faithful sentry undeterred, majestic
and proud the both of them, he became
her final gift, unspoken, and though not
antique myself, I know he will outlast me.
Debra B. Adler
|Thomas Wolfe Revisited
It is hard to go home again
as Thomas Wolfe said so well,
easier now since caring for parents
means to clip weeds around headstones
plant perennials to raise hope for renewal,
past years of duty-driven visits
negotiating ways to ease days
met with strong resistance
implied criticism, outright refusal,
denial of need. Sorrowful faces,
depressed airs, discouraged words.
Easier now with a coverlet of guilt
over missed opportunities to open fully
tightly closed doors, let a fresh
wind blow through.
Improbably pink, slight, you are unmistakable,
perched at the tube
feeder’s edge or flipped neatly sideways to seek
in the song bird blend.
Or else in motion, flicking from top to twig to
track of the familiar, checking on things.
once I watched while you stood
still beside the feeder as though stunned, or
bemused, as if the breeze
overturned a screen and you had seen the back side
the known world. It’s more likely
you had flown into the window with its hard false
sky, but in any case
weren’t moving, except for those continual sharp
side to side at what
had been there before—trowel, chaise, looped
garden hose--and still
Convalescent, you skipped to a higher spot
paused again, slack-winged,
and held for a long moment there, balanced between
the hard facts
wood and air until the air, insistent,
and received you back.
|On the Great Egg Harbor Bay
This great, grey way, this
Unmarked parking lot without the cars,
But naturally the seagulls:
Just a few boats in the whitecaps today.
This prairie with fish, a chunk of the blue
Globe in the library, but bleached
To hard gunmetal in the sun,
Shade, and rain. This reach of water unthinkable
To the folks from Utah, Nebraska, North Platte—Oh,
They do have the great rivers notching down
From highlands in the spring; adjacent
Summer floods matched only by
The twice daily high tides here,
But nothing compared to the breadth and depth
Of this salt arm of what must be
An endless sea, there beyond the channel
Between the outer islands.
I’m age ten or so, the skiff’s four times that,
Heavy with paint and old caulking,
Scarcely eleven foot on the waterline, now
In the chop of an incoming tide
Countering the west wind,
Trying to get her to pass
Above the shallow bank that I’m sure
Houses the flatfish no one’s yet found.
(There’s another name for them of course,
But omen-struck as all bayfolk are,
I don’t call them flounder since
Naming calls, and something might hear me
Summoning with verb and not the noun.)
I’d like to say I caught the fish that day
But didn’t. What I did hook and keep,
Digested as well, was
The memory of that great waterway
And the forever flavor of,
The sense of being on the bay.
Mike Mc Namara