by Karen Schnurstein

Invitation to the Man I Love
After Elizabeth Bishop’s “Invitation to Miss Marianne Moore”

From that formidable historic downtown building of yours, up from within its city of dark bricks,
            please come to me.
On careful foot or certain bicycle—or perhaps that mysterious car of yours.
            please come to me.
Across the startlingly lively expressway to Detroit or Chicago
and into this boring, flat suburb where I live and
underneath the most tranquil of skies,
            please come to me.

Smoke drifts upward from a few different chimneys. This morning
the school buses are readying for their routine tours, a poor man
is walking that long street from the prominent apartment community
to the dollar store for groceries, or perhaps to a place of employment.
Cars are busy with their goings, this and the opposite directions.
The road has recently been repaved, so it will be a smooth journey.
Perhaps even the blue jays at the back of my building
await as hungrily as I do.
            Please come to me.

Come wearing your delicate shoes and those kindest of smiling eyes that are yours
and your alone, without a notepad, without a pen,
without the keys to your office…With the awakened pitch of voice
(which I remember less and less vaguely) nested in your throat
and waiting, just waiting to sound,
            please come to me.

Bearing the lush and natural landscape like the one
where I first saw you,
            please come to me.
My white hairs are growing, the skin on my arms
has withered slightly with age,
            so please come to me.

Mourning the loss of time between us,
yet grateful for all that likely remains,
fearing not of the gap in our ages, remembering
how we were so young in our beginning, and while
the first-shift employees of the stores knock at their doors
to be let in and coffee makers in each of these small homes cool,
            please come to me.

Even the hook on my front door will welcome you,
and these two tabby cats are stirring expectantly;
as I am developing the urge to shave my thighs,
as the nearby highway is practically pulsing
with its enlivened humming, and as the pine trees stir
straight down to their roots,
            please come to me.
We can sit at my quaint dining table, contemplate
the peculiarity of our situation, drink a hopeful liquid
of some variety; we can meditate and remember
our history of being together and apart, but please
            please come to me.

With the long history of your travels behind you,
all the words of six years of my writings to you climaxing
in this final and beginning journey to my excited door,
enter here, please sit—you are most welcome here—and
            please come to me.

Come like the memory of your yellow walls
and reliable chairs, come like the omnipotent wind
and cold weather, like a newborn, pink dawning
in the eastern sky,
please come to me.

Mary Oliver is Alive
For Mary Oliver

The woman who sets raccoons free
and loves roses haunts The Wild
with desire and affection.

A poem here,
a poem there.

I wish I could’ve seen the prize-winning rosebushes
who dwelled once in the backyard
of the house I grew up in.

They were all dug up and taken before I was born.
Too much bother for my mother, but
she left one which used to stand
right up next to a family room window.

From this bush I cut roses sometimes.
Sometimes, to dress-up the dining table for everybody.

I watched the Michigan snow fall on the red-pink
blooms one year.

Sparkling green was the lawn.
A perfect white fence.
Pine trees lining the yard—
blankets of green from on high
all the way down to the ground.

But it was as if no one had thought
of a future: all of them—planted
far too close to each other—

in time their branches grew sparse
from the lack of sunlight.

Today in therapy we speak
of the things my parents never taught me.
Of the blank spaces
in my person.

And we speak of Mary Oliver:
“Is she still alive?” my therapist demands.
“Why yes! And she has a Twitter account!”
I beam.

And I think she’s the one
beckoning in the distance
to go home again,
and this time, see.

The Beautiful Day

Scant gardens along my path
to the lake today, but many
featuring cheerful, fluttering
poppies. Grateful
for each one of them.

Passed a couple on a tandem
bicycle, and the park attendant
was friendly enough.

At the lake, many people
collecting rocks at the shoreline.
Got one in my sandal
and had to stop.

“He’s deciding what to keep
and what to leave behind,”
one woman said, as a group
passed by, one child following
with an armful of rocks.

Many in the water, as it
was a bearable temperature.
A kiteboarder making quick passes
in the distance.

No boats in sight.

Today I walked joyfully
through this edge
of the lake, the ends of waves
lapping against my feet.

About the Author:

Karen Schnurstein

Karen Schnurstein lives in the Kalamazoo area of Michigan. She edits live transcription for closed captioning and enjoys writing a poem now and then. Karen achieved a B.A. in English with Creative Writing emphasis and World Literature minor from Western Michigan University, where she studied with Nancy Eimers, Jaimy Gordon and Mark Halliday.