Anne Whitehouse – Three Poems

Moon and Sun in Yoga Class

Slow songs of patience and fortitude,
Music of evening, Lady Moon Selene,

Back from her travels, thinner, shining,
A scrap of sky in her crystal blue eyes.

With natural majesty, tall and bronze-shouldered,
Sun-struck Lina strides in morning light,

Her blond braid pinned to her head like a halo,
Her eyes like the sea, her healing hands.

Bless the shapes, ever-evolving,
Formed from within, with audible breath.

Like a vine, the body spreads and grows,
Supported by the discipline of stillness.

Waves of thoughts wash away, leaving sparkling sand.
Rest in the folds of the tides and rise reborn.

**

Consolations

I.

Clusters of luscious fruit
dangle high in the tree,
orange-yellow suns glowing
in green shade
impossibly out of reach.
I long for them so
I can practically taste them.

I imagine biting thin skin,
as the soft flesh slides
against my tongue,
crushed under my teeth,
bursting with light and juice.

Farther down the tree are unripe fruits
that resemble the leaves themselves,
leaves that droop in long fronds
like the tail feathers of a great bird.

II.

After surviving the battles
of Peleliu and Okinawa,
he couldn’t look at a landscape
without seeing a battlefield.
Automatically he scouted
likely areas for foxholes,
spots for the placement
of guns and mortars
to cover defilades,
light machine guns to create crossfires
along the company front,
fields of fire, and possible avenues
of enemy attack and ambush.

Through the nights of battle,
he crouched in a hole in the ground
in the stinking darkness,
the sky angry with fires and fiery blasts
and death’s agonies everywhere.

After the war,
the dead rose out of the ground
in his nightmares.
They took him in their putrid grasp
and beseeched him terribly,
but he had no help to give.
He had to fight them,
so he wouldn’t become them.

Only by concentrating
on the study of nature
could he open the door of the prison
where his mind had trapped him.
By enumerating the species
of plant and animal,
present or probable
in any outdoors he was in,
he learned to conquer
his post-war way of seeing.

Bach’s intricate keyboard patterns,
the contained joys and sorrows
in Mozart’s music
also helped put his mind
beyond his nightmares’ reach.

III.

I dived under the surface of the sea,
its coolness seeped in my skin
and spread all through me,
and I relaxed, and I was warm.

**

One Sunday Morning

Before we knew what we heard,
The deep groan woke us in bed,
A cry of outrage so vast
We couldn’t imagine what made it.
The rumble reverberated like thunder;
We clung to each other, afraid.

We heard it again and again.
We peered out as if under siege.
There in the stream was the stag,
And there, on the bank, the coyote
Worrying the stag’s brown-and-white tail
To and fro like a fish in its mouth.

The stag now had grown silent,
Blood streamed from the hole in its rump.
Its antlers were fuzz-tipped and green,
Its large eyes liquid and brown.
The coyote glimpsed us through glass
And fled with the tail in its teeth.

The stag gingerly tested its weight;
Its left foreleg was lame.
In tall grass it lay on the bank,
But fear soon forced it to move.
We watched it limp slowly from sight,
Its life helplessly slipping away.

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