Sunday, December 26, 2010

Poem of the Week #156

Christmas Day Dream in Blue

On Christmas day,
I walk down to the lake,
a deep winter day
when the lake and the sky
are a symphony to my eye of blue:
grey-blue, white-blue, blue-blue
periwinkle-blue and green-blue.
Don’t forget (near the shore)
a swath of brown-blue, more
brown than blue, like creamed coffee
or liquid toffee churning against the rocks.

I want to walk out to the lighthouse
because who wouldn’t want to stand at the tip
of the world in all that blueness of blue?
My inner mother scolds me: it will be risky
to attempt the lighthouse on a day like this
when no one knows I’m here. One minute,
I could be standing on the breakwater and the next,
Poseidon could rise up and carry me down
to the bottom of the sea for a kiss.
Okay, not Poseidon. This is, after all,
Lake Michigan. Let’s say it would be

Poseidon’s second cousin, twice removed,
Jake, all crystally cold, rising up from the surf
on his frosty steed to whisk me down to his turf
under the lake where everything is made of liquid ice.
We’d have a dance and a feast. He’d treat me nice
and bedeck me in sparkly gems and a diamond diadem.
I’d be his warm-blooded queen of the world beneath the waves;
just what I’ve always wanted to be. Yes! I will go out
to the end of the jetty and be ready when Jake comes for me.

But at the final stretch, even the devil-may-care gal
that is me can see that only a complete fool
would walk out there today. The jetty is slick
as wet glass, and slants toward the frozen cauldron.
One false step, even on the high end, and I could slide
right over the edge into the frigid deep. Forget Jake.
The sign at the point-of-no-return explicitly states:
Strong undertow. If in doubt, don’t go out.
My date with Jake will have to wait.

I will never know if he might really have come
or if I could have at least stood there against the blue
and imagined the gift of his hands warming me through
and through. Some things are better left in the head
than to risk being dead, especially
on such a happy day as this,
a day so blue yet full of bliss,

Lisa Vihos

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Poem of the Week #155

Body Parts

My eye has a young reflex
and my optic nerves protrude.
(The better to see you with!)
I see bright spots, too.
They float just ahead of me.

Though my Turkish saddle
is now empty (too much pressure
causing invagination; that is,
a turning within) my Isles
of Langerhans are thriving.

Whereas my Canals of Hering
are teeming with tiny gondolas
that transport lovers to secret
rendez-vous for candlelit dinners
and exquisite kisses,

the fascia of my feet are tired.
I have a hollow at my tailbone
that has been known to contain
hair and teeth. Perhaps I am
descended from apes?

I do not know and cannot keep track
of all the changes in the temple.
I have asked the gatekeeper to send up a flair
now and then. It comes in various forms:
a painful twinge, a burst of laughter.

All I can be certain of is that this dress
of flesh is well-worn. I keep it washed
and ironed the best I can. It is just
my temporary cloak, and one day,
I will let it hang still in the closet
while I go out to play.

Lisa Vihos

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Poem of the Week #154

Passing On

I never met Ina Mae
but I own her rolling pin.

It was given me by Barry,
her once next-door neighbor.

His love for her taught me
that love knows no age.

She was always sweet to him
when he needed a friend

and something good to eat.
He, forty years her junior.

She was legendary and long gone
when I arrived on his scene.

Now, when I make rhubarb pie
in summer or chocolate shortbread

in winter, I picture her smiling
on her back porch in the house

next to Barry’s holding up
something on a plate. She has

a gray bun at the nape
of her neck and a flowered

apron that she smooths with weathered
hands. Her rolling pin turned butter

and flour into love, and now I have it,
have had it for nearly thirty years.

With each change, it just keeps rolling
and one day, I will pass it on to you.

Lisa Vihos

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Poem of the Week #153

Mrs. P

Her upstairs flat smelled like spray starch
and the skin of her upper arms, filigreed
with thin purple veins, flapped
when she raised them. She scared me
and she liked me. I don’t know why.
Her emphysema was ferocious,
so she would send me to the corner store
for her smokes and a can of soup.
In photos on her walls, she was a young,
vibrant woman singing into a microphone.
Now she ironed shirts for single men.
The story: she had left some place else
a husband and a son. I wanted to know:
Could a mother really leave her only one?
I guess so. Sometimes, late at night,
I’d awake to the drone of engines
and flashes of red and blue light
beating at my bedroom window.
She had called the firemen again
to bring her back with oxygen.

Lisa Vihos