FIVE WOMAN RENGA – July 2012
Twenty years ago I saw that storefront in Salida, Colorado
And wanted to write on it my poem of desire
Like a message one finger leaves on a steamed up bathroom mirror
A heart, an arrow, paired initials, “I Love You.” MS
No less ready to burst than a thunderhead on a late June afternoon
No less huge than the heart, red and rhythmic, in Salida’s night sky
This Love … LE
I shuffle the sizzling Salida sidewalks, looking into passing faces
full of light and shadow, their sorrows and joys mingled with skin,
knowing each face can only hold so much of either.
My own eyes, caught in the currents of our intermingled lives
spill over into the river that passes us by.
Look at me; I hold an invitation to the circle,
this spiral of love, this safe eddy
in our rapidly shifting landscape. LJ
Who can tell what the heart holds?
My secrets, your need,
who can say what the soul desires?
Our blood mingles,
somehow the skin remains unscratched,
the flesh unyielding. LLR
Come here, curl up with me,
the celestial fireworks have
thunder shakes the house making
those high-decibel drops outside
big as silver dollars
crash down in a flashy independent
sort of way.
Come here, love, hold me –
let’s float the hidden stream
of our own holiday. BF
a gray house with a turret
(view from my bed)
poppies, so intense
you’ve always wanted
a house with a turret
I’ve traveled a long way to do nothing MS
I am barefoot in this garden of rock and bone
Goddess figure holds court with Potentilla
You are everywhere…
My flute spins breath and blessings towards the moon
river holds the base line
We are woven into this home
no less than the mourning doves that dance in the tree LE
The yellowing of the pine tree in the vacant lot
where the grackles hold court, where the wind
croons to the moon, foretells of dry land and this
shrinking and sputtering around us.
When he goes, I better be long gone,
his stories tucked beneath my shawl,
his grace in my heart, spinning. LJ
View from my window,
this pine a world.
Nuthatches, the grosbeak,
his belly a sun,
white throat of the towhee,
I think back to snow.
Cottontail, striped squirrel,
come morning, long gone.
But first the moon must rise
and turn the lakes silver,
so perfect, so still. LLR
Velvet curtains the color of marigolds
pulled tight against the Mata Hari moon,
we dream of parallel lives, return
to phantom lovers, forge lies
into song to trill at dawn
in echo of robins, so early to rise. BF
Floating up from the aquifer of dreams
I surface in the lane
Of the vast swimming pool
Where hot springs pour from the earth’s core.
Doing a slow breaststroke
I’m almost the old woman I will become —
Grandmothers splash and pat their skin
For a penny, a lost scrunchie,
A submerged city. MS
Not to mention the village…
its commerce my conversation
F Street my foyer and lobby and living room
Passing eyes share a smile and a secret
This place that defies time, age and culture of consumption
has another name – home.
Please come in … LE
We enter, fold our legs on the open earth,
blessed to be here under ancient cottonwoods
that drink from the river beside us.
We gather to listen, move our bodies
to the rhythm of water over rock
or sit with silence and a blank page.
Open your arms and enter here;
eyes wide and heart rooted deep in each other,
sipping slowly from the quenching underworld. LJ
This river will take me
if only I let it.
Tree roots tangle my hair,
granite knifes at my back.
Breathing wet sand, going
and under. LLR
What love comes to —
is it only bright hunger and exit wounds,
or sudden delights and shadows
at chez nous, a dreamlike stillness
between — or is it this very day,
splashing into the bookstore
to get out of the rain? BF
This Is The Cosmic Highway
it says on the sign
on Route 285.
I pass the alligator farm
and the UFO viewing station
which looks in disrepair.
And pass a billboard proclaiming
THIS IS EARTH — OUR HOME
a fact which almost seems in doubt
across this great plateau. MS
No one will say out loud “Enough Already!”
Not after searing sun parched skin and eyes, grass and garden
and river was a whisper too low for boat or brown trout
and the countryside burned …
Now great dark clouds drench us daily
but we know better than to say it …
because it is never enough LE
Tenderfoot Mountain, points the way,
to our cosmic road, anchors us to home and river.
Yesterday, shrouded in torrential rains
with arms of lightning plucking Pinyon
one by one from the Mosquito range,
we dismiss the thirst, are briefly unburdened.
Morning’s clear blue sky, a gift.
Great white clouds build castles on the horizons. LJ
named for bugs (Mosquitos),
birds (there’s Quail, that’s Ptarmigan),
when I came here from ocean,
all this jumbled, broken, jagged gray
just walled me in and made me even smaller.
But then I saw the gulls plunge
from the peaks to high and hidden lakes.
And then I tasted salt and knew
that this, too, would be home. LLR
Divination by the crossroads in my palm
brought me to a river valley –
stakes me to the rocks,
my doubts whisked away
by its four-directional broom,
the future steeps in
tea leaves at Cafe Dawn.
How fragrant, this sip
if I was unkind
it was just
to memory —
hummingbird moths —
I leave tomorrow MS
the sky has rumbled
crying wolf again —
I tell myself a story
full of wet paw prints
interwoven with ours. BF
Lightning sizzles midnight sky,
silhouettes blue spruce
beyond the meadow
where fireweed clustered
and long ago, you loved me. LLR
Electric blue morning
the air, still and fresh
long shadows of the trees
reach to touch one another.
Here I am …
o p e n i n g
like a flower. LJ
Realizing my reckless wonder
keeps me still
That beauty distracts
… is an opiate
I pry myself from this Buddha rock
and return to work LE
This is a free verse renga or linked poem written by five women poets in the Salida, Colorado area. In order of appearance:
Miriam Sagan thanks the Colorado Art Ranch for her residency in Salida, summer, 2012. She runs the creative writing program at Santa Fe Community College and is the author of over twenty books.
Lawton Eddy lives, works and plays in Salida. A poet since childhood her work has been published in an anthology of high school poets, The Mountain Gazette, Colorado Central and a collection of poetry by River City Nomads with whom she performs the spoken word whenever invited.
Laurie James writes poetry to weigh the natural world and define how it has shaped her. She has been inspired by many poets and the great Western landscapes she travels. Born and raised in Montana, she is a 40-year resident of Salida, where she mixes her metaphors in view of a struggling lone pine and the wide-open changing sky.
Lynda La Rocca is a freelance writer and poet who lives in Twin Lakes, Colorado. Her third poetry collection, “Spiral”, was published in 2012 by Liquid Light Press of Lafayette, Colorado.
Barbara Ford lives in Poncha Springs, Colorado, due west of Salida. She is incapable of imagining life without poetry, the Elmer’s Glue of the Cosmos. Every week she reads the poetry of the world aloud on her radio show, which live streams on khen.org, 5-6 p.m. Mountain Time.