Tuesday, May 18, 2010

A New Sort of Story

Miss Nora Foxwell, Elliott Island 1998

Recently a friend suggested I might want to publish some of my poetry in a book and I think it might be an idea - although I have never really considered myself a poet. To my admittedly skewed point of view, poets are airy sorts with their heads in the clouds, people who mangle their subject matter until it makes little sense - but often rhymes.

That said, I thought I might publish a couple of my poems here to see what people think of my efforts. This first story is about the island women I got to know when I was a reporter for the local daily newspaper. The newspaper is now published twice a week and instead of news, it publishes lists and legal notices. The world has changed - for me, for the news, and for the island women who always knew what to expect of life.


She sits, her hands in her lap at rest,

Fingers bundles of broken twigs,

Brown and knotted, scarred,

Big-knuckled from long hours with the knife

Worrying the sweet meat

From horny red shells that cut to the quick.

If she didn’t have all those years

What would there be

Beyond the work?

Her dress is clean,

Faded at shoulder, thigh and breast

Patches over patches

Covered with a familiar apron

Of dim rose print.

Her hair is pulled back each morning

Anchored against the wind –

The constant wind.

Fine lines fan out from

Eyes once as blue as bay and sky,

Now faded into pearly haze.

She was always there

In the house beside the water

Where the fiddler crabs

Clattered their shells

At break of day,

Annoyed at her footsteps

As she tended the goat,

The chickens, the pig.

She doesn’t need much.

The neighbors look in on her.

She smiles, says she is fine.

And they leave, shaking their heads

At her presence at all.

Her voice is now an echo

Of the persisting wind

As she whispers her prayers

Over sourdough batter

Started years before and

Stirred with a tarnished spoon.

Her children live on

In faded portraits ranked

By size and age on the mantle shelf

Where the flu is cold

In the summer damp.

They rarely call.

Her man was heavy of hand,

Shoulders as strong as trees from the tongs.

She loved him when

The two were young,

But then he lay down to sleep

One night, and did not breathe

In morning’s light.

There was a time she waited

On the bridge near the water’s edge,

For the sight of a well known sail;

And now for the Maker’s call.

There’s nothing more.

Her world has passed

And soon will fade her memories

In a tattered book that once

Fell into the green water

So that the ink ran

And the tales were lost.

Keep on the sunny side! Terry

PS: I took this photo when I worked for the local newspaper with Miss Nora's permission. Please let me know if you want a copy of the file. Terry

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