Cynthia C. Rand – Four Poems

The Pear Tree

The Apple Orchard is gone
Just a place
A place
Where the stumps are leveled to the scratchy ground.
Only the ancient pear tree stands-
A silvery grasping statue
Near fossilized
It’s slender arms and silver fingers spiraling upwards reaching.
Reaching for rain in drought?
Reaching for one more year
Or day
Or hour
Or  even a minute of spilling seconds
For transpiring breath to whisper aloud: “Remember Me?
Remember this Place!
Where you and little brother
Dangled upside down from the apple trees all around me.
Remember that one, your favorite one that stood over there.
Curls flopping and skinned knees hooked over horizontal branches
Remember how you climbed up there and read books
While nibbling at the tiniest of green unripe apples
The taste of sour
Too forbidden to refrain from
Enlightenment of the tongue.”

A place
Where
The pear tree saw it all and still stands
Alone.
Lonely Pear tree amongst the Apples.
Statue of honor in this holy place
Under the shadow of the stalwart church steeple
The orchard
Where we went to pray as little ones.
Where tears slid down into grass, and soil and roots,
Weeping for  Poppy gone, and another and another of my families’ people.
Where invisible angels gathered round and knelt down
To bottle up the sweet salty tears
Taking them up to bathe the feet of Jesus.

We weren’t allowed to climb you.
Sweet pear tree yes I remember more
You were the keeper of shy secrets,
Silly stories of childish chatter,
And infinite innocent wishes
On thousands of twilight’s very first stars.
We always came to your side—
To play tag and hide-and-go-seek
To jump like frogs in leap frog,
To scream out our craziest dreams,
To run and gallop like wild ponies,
To laugh with the loudest blast possible
You were always home, base, the safe place
We danced around your upright branches reaching.
Reaching for your tiny petals that came
dancing down like spring snow flakes
in a sudden sunny wind.

Sliver of a dirt road runs round the edge
Dividing cowless pasture from long gone orchard
Untread yard from strawberry field and silent woods
Heart from home
Where clay and granite are neighbors
In a geographic slice of stableness.
It is here.
Where barbwire separates
Forests from fields.
Bears and wild turkeys
Are no respecters of the boundaries.
Boarders are lost
From  foxes quick and flicking patches of scarlett
Weaving in and out
Over and under raspberry trellis and muscadine vineyards.
We could not chase you beyond yon ridge.
This pear tree stands alone
Frozen in it’s tireless game of tag.
Silhouetted in my mind
Her branches flinging frantically
A warning Be Gone Be Gone
When the helicopters louder than thunder
Randomly One by one
Hovered in,
Bringing excess back from Nam.
Little brother and I
With hearts beating tender as morning glories
Shifting with adrendaline
To the pounding rythym of propellers
Knew terror
Frozen at first in fear like the smallest of rabbits
Searching with frightened eyes to the fields
There is Pap paw
Stopping the rythymous hoeing
To stand and lean on the wooden handle
Following it’s passing with sky eyes
Til the metallic monstrous dragon
disappears over the jungled green ridge
Wiping his brow with his sweaty handkerchief
Returning to hoe, head down, mouth shut.
Then Little Brother and I
Sprouting wings leaping over hill and cool clover speckled grass
Running to the pear tree
Learning the copter will return from beyond the ridge
Without it’s poison.
Safe, base, home.
The copters and planes carried their vats
Too close to this Holy Place.
Dropped it in dynamited holes.
Where the war in Nam
Left it’s scar in American soil
Desecration beneath
My purple heart mountain ridges
In the valley of the shadow of factory smoke
Here the poison is buried in Carolina mountains
Here in this Holy Sanctuary
A lone pear tree stands still.

**

Porch Swing Prayer

peeling green teal
skinny splintering wooden slats
rusty chain of squeaky swing
yellow porch light humid mist

skinny splintering wooden slats
a rhythm sing song swinging begins
yellow porch light humid mist
whispering words, a chant, I need a sign

a rhythm sing song swinging begins
pushed forward by pulling
whispering words, a chant, I need a sign
sudden silver furred fox haloed

pushed forward by pulling
stop fast freeze
sudden silver furred fox haloed
steel eyes see mine

stop fast freeze
rusty chain of squeaky swing
steel eyes see mine
peeling green teal

**

Lies I’ve Told my Children

I told my little ones that the Garden of Eden
Is really Here
In the Valley of the Shadow of factory smoke,
Under the shape shifting peaks
of the Blue Ridge and the Smokies.
That the Rhododendron and Laurels
Are thickets of Invisible Angels
Protecting the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil
In the center.

I told my little ones as I baptized each of them in the river of Cherokee
That the first woman and the first man were shaped
By the hands of God from the clay of Carolina Soil.
I told them the first man’s name was He Who Toils A lot
The first woman was named She Who Laughs While Weeping Inside.
They were made from our land that was all one piece
Land like a turtle’s shell upon its back,
A land patterned with green, tan, and blue hues
Etched by rivers, streams, creeks and branches.

I told my children that the oldest river in the world
Called the New River
Is also Here, and used to be
Part of the Tigris and Euphrates
Before God got ill with human greed to climb upwards.
He split us all apart making our lands like turtle soup
With continents for chunks and oceans for salty broth.

I told my children
That politicians, poets and prophets
Will fling fancy words and figuring facts around
While mountains are sliced and diced
Terror for what purpose: Energy? Money?
With lingering language: What power? What greed? What need?
While nautical veins spew forth the precious ointment lost to seas
Acid rains Weeping for our
Own ease of life? Words, figures, facts, prophecies all to no avail
Until the beginning of time as we are surely going backwards.

I tell my children that it will be in the End
Like it was in the Beginning.
For ash spews forth from the broken heart
Poisons buried not deep enough
Of a beautiful lady ballerina:
The earth shaped tenderly cradled
in the arms of God
who spun her round into a fine twirling dance
holding balance perfectly among the planets
captivated and pulled by web of the moon
has now been put in a broken music box
Trying to dance and stay centered
On a broken spring.
She shifts her mantle and her core
Wondering if she can spin anymore
Off kilter.

**

July Sunday

She strolls down the footpath
under the canopy of forty-four trees
passing the very still tire swing
there is no breeze
passing the stacked woodpile untouchable in this heat
passing the bloodroot shin high to the right
the fallen Hickory branches scattered there
the grasping ivy clings
to purple clover over on the left
she is fifteen in years and I am her tears
she anchors her Holy Bible
under one arm and on a barely there hip
she steps swiftly in Jesus sandals
long pale hair in ponytail
still wet behind her ears
Searching for God on Sunday
She climbs into an old white car
where a blue eyed skinny boy
awaits to take her to holiness church
-loud muffler roaring my heart ajar.

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