Saturday, May 26, 2012

A Particular Sadness

Here is a poem I have been working on for some time.  It comes from the event of a tall pine tree--some three stories tall--falling near my home.  I went out for a bit, its familiarity subconsciously comforting me, and upon returning home a short time later, I was forced to walk past its fallen form.  I did become sad for that particular loss--the smell of sawdust soon replacing the tree's presence.  But since then it has became a symbol of the all the accrued losses, consequences of greed through our unnecessary national economic crisis, over the last number of years.  Wrestling with the iconic American Dream, I continue writing this poem.

A Particular Sadness

A new gap in the earth
The smell of wet soil, pungent and heavy.
A titan of a tree gave in to the wind
Gave in to the wind
And fell.

We were knee deep
In severed pine, shoulder deep
In lateral, aching branches
Losing purpose
And life.

Soil, unaccustomed to light
Breathed out its breath, gasping for darkness
Evaporating its clammy heart,
Its very heart,
Into air.

Nine birds—refugees now—
Perched in sparse, leafless, neighbor trees
Like Darfurian refugees spread out on the sand,
Spread out on the sand.
They lost their homes.
They lost their homes!

A new space was born.
An empty space was birthed by titan’s absence.
A new space was violently made
At the cost of that tree.
Oh, that beautiful tree!

And I—I gained a particular sadness.

Copyright M.R. Hyde 2012

Saturday, May 12, 2012

More from Pauley

Last night at the Colorado Springs Writer's Reading Series I read from my developing story about Pauley, a young man as tall as a tree.  This story is growing by the week and in this post I share the excerpt that I read last night.

Recently were all very sad to learn that Abby E. Murray, esteemed poet and our fearless leader, would be moving out of State.  We were equally as proud to send her on to her full-ride PhD program in New York.  But, we thought that this meant that CSWRS would be ending.  However, a new leader has emerged with excitement about the continuing future of this great writers resource.  Whew!  We just averted a crisis.  

Look for the debut of Abby's new collection of poetry coming out in June. This is a poet you do not want to miss!

The Old Woman

Pauley woke to colors -- colors everywhere. The sun streamed through bands and circles and half circles of color. The trees just outside the great circular stained glass window danced. And when they danced the colors danced with them. They danced on the walls, on the ceilings, on the floor, on the blankets and on Mac’s ruddy face. Pauley moved to sit up, wincing and groaning. Mac stretched and yawned.
"It's about time you woke up!"

Pauley grinned at Mac. "And look at you laying there under those quilts!"
Mac sat bolt upright. "I smell bacon!"
Sure enough, the aroma of salt pork and grease propelled the two friends out of their beds and into the raw sunlight -- but not without Pauley bumping his head on the door post first. They both stood with their hands on their hips drinking in the scene before them.  

Forty or fifty smallish people were scurrying around about. Some were frying bacon, others setting tables, some stirred scrambled eggs and others flipped pancakes. A small horse drawing a barrel on wheels followed a happy, whistling, bald man to its destination. Within minutes people were filling jars with a deep golden syrup that Pauley and Mac could only assume was fresh maple.
An instant later the man by the barrel stopped whistling and began to wipe his sticky hands on his apron. In another moment every busy person stopped what they were doing and turned toward the two visitors. A reverent awe fell over the group and the only thing that could be heard was bacon sizzling and birds twittering in the bushes and trees.
Mac cleared his throat and then whispered out of the side of his mouth, "Did we say something wrong?"
Pauley let his arms dropped to his sides. "I don't think we said anything, did we?"
The bald man moved forward carefully with his hands clasped around a jar of syrup. Then, magnanimously, he called out, "Ve greet you, frients, on dis fine mornink!" Then he bent low at the waist in an officious manner. A few people behind him began to giggle. Pauley and Mac giggled a bit as well, for the man had forgotten about his jar and the syrup was folding itself out onto the ground. Deep into his bow he saw the dark, golden stream and threw himself back upright. Syrup swirled all over his bald head and rolled down his arms.  This was followed by great peals of laughter from everyone there. Mac was laughing so hard he had to hold his sides, while Pauley politely approached the man and offered him his handkerchief.
"Oh, no!  Tank you.”  The man was red-faced and blustering. "Ve are here to serf you!"
A plump woman with a blue, checked apron quickly ran up to the man and started to dob the syrup off of his bald pate.
"Oh, don't vurry ‘bout him, sirs. He ees alvays doink somesing silly to make us laugh.” She turned to the man with a huge smile. “Don’t cha?"
Pauley knelt down, took out his handkerchief and began to wipe syrup off of the man's arm. "We are glad to be here. Thank you." His smile was genuine and not mocking.
With renewed confidence the man nodded at Pauley and turned to the crowd. "Ees time for da breakfast!" A general cheer was raised and everyone raced to the tables while the cooks doled out the food. Pauley had a little trouble sliding his long legs under the table, but quickly caught up with the number of pancakes that Mac had already eaten. Mac gave Pauley a sticky smile and went back in for more.
Once the initial hunger had been satisfied, cheerful chatter arose among the group. Everyone seemed to be having a good time except a smallish, elderly woman at the end of Pauley's table. She ate slowly and could not keep her eyes off of Pauley. Pauley paused a moment while more eggs were being served and he saw the woman at the end of the table.  There was something familiar about her. He took a gulp of tea and blinked twice. She did not move and continued to look at him. Pauley stared down at the steaming eggs and contemplated her for several minutes. People around the table began to grow quiet and the quiet cascaded to the other tables. A few people whispered.
Pauley swallowed hard. Tears welled up in his eyes. Then in a faltering and broken voice he said, "Are—are you my grandmother?"
The small woman nodded briefly and then buried her head in her hands while she sobbed. Pauley did not hear the dishes crashing, or the chairs falling over, or the startled cries of the others at his table as it toppled to its side. His knees had punched up the table as he scrambled to embrace his grandmother. After the crashing settled everyone could see Pauley standing as tall as a tree holding his grandmother like a baby as she wept with joy. Those standing close by could hear her say, "Dis ees goot. Dis ees goot." over and over and over.
Everyone began to cry with joy, including Mac who was blubbering even as he took another bite of pancake.

Copyright M.R. Hyde 2012