The Storm: Poem by Miriam Sagan

The Storm

In the lodge
on Grand Mesa
old guys are playing cribbage
over endless coffee.

Mist hangs
from fir and spruce
rain breaks the current drought
although the lakes are still low.

The Polish proprietress
serves little tarts
filled with raspberry jam.

The old-fashioned
reproductions on the wall
are Rembrandt’s Aristotle
gently touching
the head of Homer
and a Romantic painting
my mother hated:
“The Storm.”

A man and a woman in gauze
rush through a tempest
but still are looking good.
My mother would say:
“the man is not
taking care of the woman.”

And indeed, once in the East Village
I saw my father
walk 20 paces ahead of her
in pouring rain
holding the only umbrella.

“Take care of number one,” he’d tell me.
Good advice
but he might have added
something
to it.

You were worried
I wouldn’t like Grand Mesa
arriving on a wet evening
animal heads
mounted in the lobby.

So I now must tell you
not only did I like
“The Storm”
when I was a child, I also
like being here with you.

Notes From The Forest Fire

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I’m in an artist’s residency in the southern Rockies, collaborating with my daughter Isabel.
Where am I really? The days of being a Romantic poet in a bucolic setting seem to be over (probably a hundred years ago). There is rural poverty and oppression in Hardy’s novels, but still, the city is worse. And I’m in an eco-system beleaguered by global warming and drought.
This mountain burned twenty years ago. It’s burning again, the scrub oak that sprang up. I’m pretty afraid of wildfires because I have only one fully working lung and I try to avoid the smoke. Yet the fire is contained, now smoldering. On National Forest land the fire can’t be fought with chemicals in the same way it is one private land. A helicopter has dumped water. I feel a huge love and gratitude for the four guys up there working to contain the fire.
And yet I’ve read enough Gary Snyder to know that western forests need to burn to be healthy. This forest fire is a hundred percent not about me. Yet it impacts me. In this it is pretty much like every other problem I’m facing right now—an ill friend, a demented frail family member, world events.
I sit in an old comfy arm chair on the front porch. I should sweep, but housekeeping is never my strong suit. I myself am full of contradiction. I want to: write, work in the print studio, run off to Questa to see if there are ice cream pops in the general store.
Isabel has been teaching me a lot. She gave me lessons on her camera. Taught me to make a monoprint. Yet sometimes I want to quibble with her, even boss her around. Or watch Mad Max with her.
It’s too easy for me to say—just go with the flow, to pick peace and grooviness over confrontation with this world. It’s too easy to say—well, reality is shit, how can I be so happy here in this gorgeous setting drinking my coffee when people are dying in the street the world over.
I’m quite convinced there is a Middle Way not just because I’ve heard its rumors but because I see it moment by moment before me, whether or not it leads me to Questa.

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