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Monday, April 22, 2013

NaPoWriMo Day 22: Pastorale in fragments

As I contemplate and delay writing today's assignment, a pastorale, I wander to the Poetry Daily website, where James Arthur, today's Poetry Pick writer, recalls being asked to memorize a particular poem.  Now I am currently trying to commit to the growing trend of committing poems to memory, but I quail at the thought of memorizing his example, "Ode on a Grecian Urn", or anything longer than a dozen simple lines. (Okay, to be honest, anything at all.)  But I read the poem, and it does seem to me that the OOAGU (don't you just love acroymns--this one sounds like the Telugu word for something similar to an arroyo ) is a sort of pastorale.  In praise of the country life, and/or contrasting it with the city life .  And now I must stop digressing and write one.  Let's see if I can 'channel' Keats' ode in the direction of a pastorale....I have spent more time than I can spend, right now, on this one, which looks as though it may do one of two things: either require tons of editing to focus on the single moment
captured in either of the photos.  I'm too close to the words I've put down here, too fond of all of them because of what they represent, to complete this task right now...but we knew at the outset, that this month's poems would sometimes be fragments, rough notes...This is one (or perhaps two) of the unfinished ones...
 I hope it may yet sing!

Grandma Johnson in Her Element

The photographs I remember are two,
herself as a young mother with a boy,
my father, though my brother thinks it is himself,
fond sepia tones, eyes locked between serene
and the unknowable, facing a future unknown,
but hoped for, and this snapshot where she stands,
you couldn't really say alone,  among chickens
between their roosting shed
and the watering stations,
behind the fence next to her slender,
breeze-driven, undulating oleander
which winters on her sunporch but
has now returned to its rightful place,
sun shining on true plenty, and her  joy.

In the living room are a silken carpet,
lacquered table, and a mountain of amethyst,
souvenirs brought back from distant farms,
faraway places, when the boys returned
home from the Second World War.
Are there still other grandmothers over there,
peaceful and content to feed their own little broods
as they cluster around her feet,
around her table?

I Love the Woman in the Chickenyard

She goes there every day,  casts her glance around
as generously as the feed she scatters, giving
nourishment ataking stock of her little flock,
who haggle to strut closer beside her,
clucking their appreciation of luncheon largesse
bestowed by their apron-clad benefactress.
No matter that her flowered dress is faded or old,
her stockings rolled and gartered at the knee
above sturdy shoes that have seen a better day
blonde wisps escaping  her flour sack kerchief
triangle tied backward, away from her face
which beams with unbridled joy, or is it pride,

They cluster 'round her ankles and peck near her feet,
they trust she can take care of them, they love her     
and, watching her thus, so do I.

The sky was never bluer than that day  I recall,
nothing more pleasant than reading the hired girl's books
hidden in the golden dust laden loft of the granary

             Later today she will..milk, separator, cook milk room,cook.
             Left  to me , dishes and cleanup...

@ Shirley Smith Franklin

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