Saturday, September 24, 2022

Three Poems by Rose Mary Boehm

Counting Sheep

I am trying to recite my mantra:
'aum mani padme hum'.  It's just long enough
to force some concentration and cheat my
brain into believing that getting it right
is all it needs to agonize about.  I sleep

until that aging bladder wants to be emptied,
and after feet on cold floor, broadening hips knocking
the chest of drawers again, I worry that
I might have woken my partner, but daring
to look in his direction I cannot make out movement
or accusation.  My brain lights up and gets to work,

making lists of everything that might be useful
for a little panic.  Will I remember that first line
of my just conceived poem tomorrow? Did I put
some beers in the fridge to be cold tomorrow?
Perhaps I ought to write to my bank first thing or they
block my account! Where will my friend and I have lunch
tomorrow?  (Why on earth should that make me worry . . .)
If the lift doesn't work, I'll have to climb six floors tomorrow.
When was that funeral -- should I have gone?
Do we have onions?

Sleep finally finds me again 15 minutes before
my body knows it's time to make breakfast.

I always love you, life

You have showered me with riches.  You have hurt me beyond
measure.  But I am getting tired now.  I started the battle
early, and the warrior woman's arm is lowering her bow.

I wore a coat of many colours, became what the world
wanted me to be.  Claimed my freedom by melting
into walls.  Sometimes you could see the fissures.
I did what I needed to do in the anonymity of plain sight.

I lusted after the steppes of my mother's forebears,
my long mane blowing in the wind.
My DNA remembered that I honoured the goddess,
cared for the land, herded and told the stories of old.

Didn't know what it means to belong.
But I always was a quick learner,
my deceit well practiced.
You never quite found me out as not of your pack.

About Bread.  Germany, 1944

I can see myself.  A small girl.  White vest, black, ballooning
shorts, handmade. She stands on a milestone, giving her the height
to overlook the wheatfield, trying to see the wave.
In the distance a coocoo calls.

The children have finished picking out the
potato beetles and their larvae by turning over each leaf,
walking slowly through the field where row after row
of the potato green thrives, ready for August.  I see the girl
in front of the big farmer's wife, her apron a sea of colours,
here and there slightly soiled.  The woman presses
the big round loaf against her swelling belly,
cuts it in half and hands her a slice as long
as two of her hands after spreading some lard.

The girl is walking home from the bakery.
The baker lady cut out two coupons from the ration
card. Under the child's left arm a big, crusty loaf.
With her right hand, and an experienced finger, she hollows
the bread through the crust from the exposed end.
At this moment she doesn't think about consequences.

They picked up the last wheat from farmer Braun's
field after he finished the harvesting.  Mother
carried it home in a bag she'd brought.  Left the stalks
to dry on the windowsill, beat out the grains.
She sits, the coffee mill between her legs,
her dress sagging between her thighs.

If we find enough firewood, we'll have
a small fresh loaf tomorrow.
If the train doesn't get bombed,
Father will arrive just in time.

Rose Mary Boehm is a German-born British national living and writing in Lima, Peru, and author of two novels as well as six poetry collections.  Her poetry has been published widely in mostly US poetry reviews (online and print).  She was twice nominated for a Pushcart.  DO OCEANS HAVE UNDERWATER BORDERS? (Kelsay Books July 2022) and WHISTLING IN THE DARK (Taj Mahal Publishing House July 2022), are both available on Amazon.

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