Thursday, November 13, 2014

Two Poems by Kelley White

Living in the Attic

We put our bed down in the space
under the eaves--a wide space
a bit of platform so it was a mattress
flat, and interestingly, clearly our
bed, your things already packed
four closets nearby but there
was plenty of storage space and light
streaming in from three tall windows
(as in the house where I lived years
ago with my husband and children,
and odd it just was the next morning
that I read of the attic at the great dwelling
at the Shaker Village at Canterbury,
great space of numbered drawers
built into rafters with careful
so careful craftsmanship.)

There was some implication
of us taking in foster children
and in another part of the great space
were bedsteads set up for a dozen
or more neatly planned and looking up
at the rafters I saw there hung an ornate
antique bird cage-and another-and
a third I had glimpses of color
when lowered there was contained a parrot
a macaw another brightly feathered speaking
bird.  They had been without food and water
a few days (this clearly goes back
to my conversation with my mother
about the divorcing mailman using my house
in New Hampshire to store houseplants)
but strutted happily about released
and speaking and there were others too

Maine Hermit Living in Wild for 27 Years Arrested

You made the papers.  Sitting here in your bathrobe
you smell pretty good but your feet are altogether too
white.  Bless your knobby little terrycloth, bless your
sash, bless your dry-skin knees, your hair that
seems to have a hint of gold even as the brush sluices
the last of the suds through your scalp.  A watery
syrup sweet swish.  They gave his name but I will not
give it to you.  Nor the title of his little pond.  The make
of his car.  The spot on the map.  Alright, John X.
I'll use scissors to take apart that map I'll never fold
back into the pocket of your chest.  You've identified
the junco.  His little grey vest tells me you're right.  Allors
boucoux.  That's what I thought he said.  I'll hosey the longest
paddle.  Scratch your sainted rock of justice.  Covered
in moss.  I scratched my initials into its velvet pelt
with the keys to your convertible. That rusted iron
barge.  As if you ever paid off your loan.  We'll be flying,
this flower child, hands dusted with cornmeal, blue
pale eyes in the wrinkled pie crust of your face.  Your tax
refund belongs to tomorrow.  Honi sant qui mal expanse.
Ah, the junco taps the ice cubes from the freezer, shakes
up the cubes in your bathtub gin.  We'll float, bare toes
in that grainy black in white photo on the front page.

Pediatrician Kelley White worked in inner city Philadelphia and now works in rural New Hampshire.  Her poems have appeared in journals including Exquisite Corpse, Rattle and JAMA.  Her most recent books are Toxic Environment (Boston Poet Press) and Two Birds in Flame (Beech River Books).  She received a 2008 Pennsylvania Council on the Arts grant.

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