Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Poem of the Week #9
March 2, 2008

When Everything Boils Down
to a Red Pom-Pom in the Snow

The five minute ride on the ski lift
with Francie Vandersluis produced
enough heat and pressure in him
to make diamonds
from the coal in his pocket.

Inches from his side,
they could be on a date.
They could be going up the aisle
to meet the preacher.
They could, at least, be talking.

But what can an eighth grade boy
say to Francie Vandersluis?
They don’t even go to the same school,
so no chance to hang out by the lockers;
posture with the guys as she walks by,
break rank and offer to carry her books—
or open a door—something simple,
but suave and nice.

He knows her only from church.
Her family sits across the aisle,
two pews ahead and he can gaze
upon the curls at the nape of her neck
for a whole hour, or longer,
as the pastor’s soothing voice
lulls him into a reverie—
the best damn sermon
a boy could hope for.

Here, in the dangling chair
he hangs on like someone drowning,
seconds away from her soft skin
the scent of her shampoo
mixed with the smell of wet wool,
blonde curls escaping from under
her red ski cap; her sweet little lips
like fingers that beckon him.

His mouth is void of saliva.
His hands tremble in his gloves.
His heart pounds so hard
it could be the very engine
running the ski lift
and all ski lifts, everywhere.
“We’re in confirmation together, aren’t we?”

He is stunned to be recognized
by this sovereign beauty. Confirmation.
Together. Yes, yes we are.
Before he can answer, she asks,
“What do you think of it?”

He would like to take the back
of his finger and rub it along
her rosy cheek, lay his head
on her shoulder. “It’s okay,” he says,
and immediately regrets it.
He realizes that his stomach
has been left far behind
at the bottom of the hill.

As they approach the summit
he knows that now is the time
to do or say something memorable
because he might not have this chance
with Francie Vandersluis ever again.

As he works to turn stray words
into some kind of sensible proposal,
she smiles and says “see ya,”
hops from the chair, a cute bunny,
and gracefully takes off down the hill.

The pom-pom of her hat dips and bobs,
vanishes into the blinding white field—
a red button of desire.

© Lisa Vihos

Special Edition: Leap Day
February 29, 2008

Leap Day

Wake up!
Today is leap day!
Leap into this moment.
Today, the day
that only comes once
every four years;
the day that man made
to correct the slippage
in the cosmic clock.

Who figures these
things out, anyway?
When I can’t even
decide what to eat
for breakfast,
who can measure
and determine
what to do with time?

Who got the whole darn
world to recognize
leap year?
Let’s get that guy or gal
working on world peace
and the green house effect
today, right now.

Or is leap year
just another one of
those false constructs
that delude us
into thinking
we’ve mastered
the time-space continuum?

No matter.
I will leap today
and every day
because this moment
is here forever,
always new,
always the next breath.

© Lisa Vihos

Poem of the Week #8
February 24, 2008

Sharpsburg Memory

We drove over from Baltimore to see
Aunt Catherine, ninety something then, still
running the farm. Owen was three, chubby.
Michael hadn’t seen her in forty years.
I was taking notes for Owen that trip—
names on gravestones, tracts of land, fallen barns,
gathered patchwork squares of family history;
not mine, but his.

At the rickety screen door,
she paused a moment; then came out to us.
She chased Owen past the garden, raised
him like a sack of Maryland potatoes.
Her weathered arms lifted him to praise
this ground he came from; not my ground, but his.
We’d forgotten the camera, but I still see their dance:
boy, sky, hands.

© Lisa Vihos

Poem of the Week #7
February 17, 2008

Dollar Value

Remember afternoons
dumping out the can of coins
and counting them with dad?
Ten pennies made a tower;
a wall of ten, a dollar.

He did nickels, dimes, and quarters.
I was the princess of pennies.

After hours of counting,
came the delicate task
of stacking the copper
flat in the wrappers.
He said little fingers
were good for that,
the neat, crisp folding
of the sleeves.

I loved those rolls in my hand,
their shape and heft had power.
We strode together
and traded them for treasure
down at the corner. Beer for him
and a Hershey bar for me.

Now, I take my coins to the bank,
willy-nilly in a can.
Down the chute they go.
No time spent, no towers.
Minutes later, the teller returns
with the empty container
and I go to my car,
a little bit poorer,
my pocket full of dollars.

© Lisa Vihos

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