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Earths Daughters
Poems from recent issues of Earth's Daughters


from IN THE JAR, Issue #89
TENNESSEE OR ANY STATE


Another year flops onto its side
and disappears downstream;
another appears immediately
with no disruption in the current.
Over and again this happens
but this year
something jarred me.
I noticed I was the timekeeper
not the river.

Helen Ruggieri
Olean, NY


from EBB, Issue #88
AUGUST, HURRICANE CONNIE


For Emmett Till


After the rains, we ventured out to play,
as children do, sniffing the air, salty,
sharp and moldy, nature's dead debris
at our feet: branches, leaves, petals,
pieces of metal toys, everything broken.
Fathers–
waiters, teachers, newsmen–
put on crisp shirts and, lighting cigarettes,
walked out to assess ruined gutters
and fences; mothers fretted
over lilacs and roses. Red brick Tudor
houses stood upright as before.
School soon began, and Lizzie found
a magazine photo of the 14-year-old boy
in his open casket, one eye gouged out,
beaten in Mississippi just two weeks
after the storm. We stared at it,
had no language for the damage.
We didn't know grownups were capable
of that. A parent took away the picture,
gave us lucky chalk and satin hair ribbons.
We took the presents eagerly,
eyed the adults, and drew monsters
on the pavement, ugly bumps
on their frowning faces.

Susana H. Case
New York, NY


from TASTE, Issue #87
DEGRADATION OF THE PEACH


Once upon a not that long ago
a peach was sweet and juicy.
You could recognize its flavor
in the dark as you licked
its tangy honey from your chin.
Now they are mealy. Sweet
as pillow stuffing. Designed
for shipping, not eating.
Such a peach will rot long
before it can ever ripen.
Tomatoes will soon be square
as children's blocks and taste
like them. They have lost
their scent. You can bounce
them off the kitchen floor.
Huge strawberries shipped
from California have no savor. We are deprived of the pleasures
of ripe fruit. We are warned to eat
fruit but these are parodies.
Apples are red we're told but
live apples dress in russet, gold
green, streaked orange. Real fruit
has bruises, maybe a worm hole
but it sings its name as you taste.

Marge Piercy
Wellfleet, MA


from Shift, Issue #86
LIKE A DARK LANTERN


I move thru the first
floor at 3 AM, past
the cat who is curled
in a chair half made
of her fur, turning
her back on air
conditioning, startled
to find me prowling
in the dark as if I was
intruding on stars and
moon and the ripple
in water that spits
back the plum trees.
Grass smells grassier.
The clock inches slowly
toward the light. A
creak of wood and
the soft scratch on the blue
Persian rug that cat claws
gently merge with some
night bird I've never
seen like a poem that
goes along and suddenly,
at the end, like a banked
fire, explodes into the
wildest flame that finishes
off everything that has
come before it perfectly

Lyn Lifshin
Vienna, VA


from Small Things, Issue #85
TO THE RIVER-MERCHANT'S WIFE


By the gate now, the moss is grown, the different mosses,
Too deep to clear them away! —Rihaku (Li Bai), translated by Ezra Pound

For you, the growth of the moss
simply measured how long
your husband had been gone.
If he had been home, the sweep
of the gate, the scuff of feet
passing back and forth on the walk
would have checked its spread.
What few plants appeared
he would have scraped away
to keep the stone path smooth.

Alone, though, you had begun to see
the moss was not a uniform green fuzz
spreading and thickening over the ground.
You had noticed there were
different mosses: upright stalks and trailing;
leaves whorled into starbursts,
fine-split into plumy feathers;
deep greens and pale, bluish and yellowish,
some nearly black, others almost gold.
They made a variegated texture—
richness you might have admired,
had it been in a woven cloth
your hand could stroke.

Perhaps, while you went on waiting
for your husband's return,
you started to study those mosses,
to take interest, even delight,
in their minute structures.
Perhaps you ceased to regard them
as debris needing to be cleared away,
came to see them instead
as a garden in miniature.
Perhaps you gathered a harvest
of inch-long, leaf-furred stalks,
dried them, and wove them into
baskets to hold small keepsakes.
Perhaps that work became a comfort.
Perhaps it even have you
a quiet, private joy.

Eleanor Berry
Lyons, OR



from Light, Issue #84
REFLECTION


You move
as a boat through

waters
of the night,

no wave
apart from light

flickering
like a ghost

forever
lost,

no more
than carving

and I as shore
looking on

not
moving

under
the moon

David Radavich
Charlotte, NC



from Dancing on the Edge, Issue #83
SINGING DOWN THE NIGHT


We sang like coyotes drunk on stars,
the scent of secrets falling to earth
for one illuminated moment trailing mystery

Night runs like a river
to sweep away boundaries
sculpted into curves like raptors
acquiesced in the rise of thermals,
the trust to spirals opening the way
for light clustered together.

Sheri L. Wright
Louisville, KY

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