by Laura Foley JanuaryA blizzard of cyclone-cold wind
whips snow in Elysian drifts
around Stygian pines,
builds fantastical walls around the house,
turns familiar woods otherworldly,
provides a world of reasons to stay inside,
as the finches at the feeder
grow more gold-feathered every day,
and the days, they say, grow longer,
though from inside this shaken globe of snow,
it’s hard to know.
The Day of the Dead
I think of her lying in the lower field,
beside the cow’s grave, her coffin hand-hewn,
filled with late season flowers, weeds,
hays and grasses, her body one week gone,
buried not far from the pond
we often dipped our bodies in.
Now she flies, unseen,
lightly over water’s surface,
through cow fields, horse pastures,
every inch of her beloved garden,
over tops of trees, as we, those left behind,
tread onward toward the darkest days.
White Plains Hospital, Psychiatric DivisionAs Clara and I drive, I identify new highways,
upscale houses, and shopping malls sprung up
since I was young; don’t mention hearing
Mom’s voice from fifty years ago, You see,
they don’t look like bars, as I mirror her gesturing.
The stolid brick buildings remain unchanged,
over-heated corridors, airless, quiet as death,
our footsteps echoing against the scarred wood,
passing shadowy, ancient photographs
staring out at us. Stopping us at the locked doors,
the attendant checks our gifts—
no plastic bags, no dental floss,
no medications, no shoe laces, no glass.
Inside, a middle-aged woman slumps
in her wheelchair, as an older man
complains to no one in particular.
When we reach her room,
I mourn how gaunt she’s become,
but she rises eagerly to greet us
showing us, from her window,
the labyrinth where she walks,
with a group of patients and attendants,
anathema to the teen still in me,
but when we leave, she pats me on the back
obsessively, and gently,
as if I needed comforting:
my oldest sister, looking out for me.
Quantum ReceivingMy knees remind me
how my body has begun
to resist my will, but still
I venture from the fireside
to climb my snowy hill,
in eight bone-chilling degrees,
to listen to the quiet
of dormant trees,
this windless night,
to view the flash of meteors
streaking obsidian sky,
in spite of winter’s darkest days
a message from the gods,
as if the stars are part of me.
SwingWhile the giddy bird feeder
swings over crusted snow,
Clara waters geraniums,
pots of rosemary, thyme,
a lemon tree. Come, she says,
smell the lemon tree, so sweet,
like Spain in spring, see
the fig, it grows new leaves
as if it doesn’t know
we’ve got three feet of snow,
four months of winter left.
I bend to the replete
yellow buds she proffers,
then pivot, focusing
on yellow finches, as if
their golden fluttering
might gild me.
I have to turn away
to savor the love
one of us will lose,
our loneliest day. About the Author:Laura Foley is the author of six poetry collections, including, most recently, WTF and Night Ringing. Her poem “Gratitude List” won the Common Good Books poetry contest and was read by Garrison Keillor on The Writer’s Almanac. Her poem “Nine Ways of Looking at Light” won the Joe Gouveia Outermost Poetry Contest, judged by Marge Piercy. Her book, The Glass Tree, won a Foreword Review Prize for Poetry.Her poems have appeared widely in journals and magazines including Valparaiso Poetry Review, DMQ, Room Magazine, McClellan Poetry Prize Website, Pittsburgh Poetry Review, Bellevue Literary Review, in the anthologies, Aesthetica Creative Writing, In the Arms of Words: Poems for Disaster Relief, Ice Cream Poems, Roads Taken: Contemporary Vermont Poets, Not My President, an anthology of Dissent, and others. A palliative care volunteer in hospitals, with an M.A. and a M. Phil. in English Lit. from Columbia University, she lives with her wife and their two dogs among the hills of Vermont.