Saturday, March 10, 2018

Three Poems by Dana Yost

In the Beauty of All This

Out here, we are tourists starting a search for Mount Hood,
two hundred miles away, and big, of course,
snow-topped and big.  But so many are,
so many snow tops on the wide circle of horizon.
We pull our rental car to the shoulder at an intersection,
and it's no longer the mountain I need to find
but something larger, something more
than even the vast dry spaces of eastern Oregon:
my place in this world again,
my one slot in the beauty of the whole thing,
which I've misplaced like my keys,
but I need right now.
Here, I remember the beauty of places
and remember the beauty of people.
We h old hands and pull close, and though I can see snow-topped
mountains they seem very small.
I have a place in the beauty of all this,
and I know where it is.

Freeze Out

My son wants us to walk
to the middle of Lake Calhoun today.
Thirteen below overnight
and the ice is a thick reflector
of the Minnesota morning.
It's beautiful, he says.
And it is:
a mirror that captures sun dogs
that look as if they've passed through
stained glass,
the gliding clouds
like white cloth.
A symmetry in the semi-circle
of bare trees that enfold
the far shore.
Christmas comes in four days,
and this has the look of tinsel
and Tiffany, a serenity
borrowed from painters who show
us the nostalgic, pastoral glow
of Christmases
that never were,
but are what we wanted
them to be.

My son wants to stand
in the center,
arms wide,
part of the symmetry.
I get it:  it's like
inserting yourself
into a painting
--the almost-sacred
winter silence.
He points:  the sun striking
the lake, making
a pink halo
on the sheen.
Come on, he says.

But I am afraid
of ice,
even if eighteen inches thick.
I've written news stories about people
when they fell
through holes
in lake ice.
My uncle
went under
on a river, sliding
along the current
until someone punched
a hole and pulled him out.
When I have
been on lake ice,
I've winced
at each creak,
each groan,
waiting for the cataclysmic

There are other people
out there, my son says.  They
look like they're having fun.
I insist:  no.  And I know
my fear disappoints him.
I say:  won't it be just
as pretty, just as wondrous
if we stand by that bench
on shore, and look
out at the lake?
It won't, of course.
The symmetry
is off.  The sun reflects
differently.  The bench
is too close to the busy Lake Street,
and, thus, too loud.
Where's that sacred silence?

It won't be the same.
He knows it.
I know it.
We say no more,
and walk away,
my son wanting
to be somewhere
I could not
take him.


Late now,
a night of working out grief
in poetry scratched a line
at a time on torn-thin
paper scraps and pilfered
memo pad.  I say a few prayers.
But I will not sleep.
I'm broken somehow,
like a paper-mache creature fallen
from shelf.  There's no
prayer for that, I think.
Small glass of wine,
streak of orange-yellow light
in the sky.  I'll stay up.
Maybe the fireball made it to earth.
Maybe I could find it.
Maybe I could measure the scar.

Dana Yost is a former award-winning daily newspaper writer and editor.  Since 2008, he had published five books, most recently "1940:  Journal of a Midwestern Town, Story of an Era," a large history of the rural Midwest.  His poems have been published in numerous reviews and journals.  He is a three-time nominee for the Pushcart Prize.

No comments:

Post a Comment