Two Poems

By Anastasia Vassos

Point of Origin

Grapevines tangle the maple tree.
Long-haired Moirai ravel destiny.
Sunlight of August pitches and lingers.
I remember: string tied to my finger,

holding then losing a red balloon,
lilies of the valley, hollow moons.
I’ve changed my clothes three times today,
the path unstitched geography.

Mother pedals her Singer machine
to make my clothes, I hear her singing.
Whirr of work, she won’t look back:
pins that snare, thread that snaps

through delicate fabric. Scissors that scare.
My Sisters—the sparing ones—are here.

for Barbara Trainer

As if the matriarch who died last year
could hear her, Barbara says sorry, Andree
as we hack away at the Oriental Bittersweet.
It’s clung to the porch’s iron railing
for fifty years. Its little orange capsules hold
red seeds that will never take hold
because of our necessary task.
We make our saddest effort cleaning up
the garden for winter. Yesterday, we pitch-forked
the pile of wood chips at the top of the hill,
moved them down the path to the hollow,
barrow by barrow, almost as far as the bridge.
Behind our backs, the red maple in the center
of the yard had dropped her yellow skirt.
The bittersweet won’t grow back—
we’ve made sure of that—invasive,
non-native, and we’ve hacked it down
to its stubby root. But the iris that we split,
rhizomes bleached in a ten
percent solution, will take hold
once spring comes, and push their spathes
toward the sun, standards blazing, beards
almost psychedelic in their insistence.
Such is the stubbornness of nature.
She plays dead, then comes back to life
like Lazarus, who could not stay
underground for more than four days
before he was revived.