The Chatelaine Endures (a glosa) An empty cup, a flight of uncarpeted stairs. It is not enough that yearly, down this hill, April Comes like an idiot, babbling and strewing flowers. from Spring by Edna St. Vincent Millay January shoulders cold light in skimpy rations down the short chute of day, brooking no tarry of sun to warm the bones at all, at all, and ordinary cares – drafty parlour, cat confined indoors – are nothing to the cold that furls her tight. Ask the chatelaine how she fares: an empty cup, a flight of uncarpeted stairs, a rad that’s either cold and comfortless, or scalds, chilblains, chapped hands, a charley-horse at night. February doles miserly moments at either end of day, grey fragments damp with barometric chill, evoking yearnings: cote in Provence, villa near Milan, or else, at least the furnace well-stoked at home, but no, see the constant hoar of frost along the windowsill. It is not enough that yearly, down this hill in winters past the veins on haunches of dray horses popped, their rear shoes shrilled like iron scraped, their long tails trailed on ice as milk and bread were proffered to her very door; no more; now she slips and totter to the village store. Then March does not relent, it howls and blasts at will, damps smoke back down the chimneys, clatters the French doors, freezes the pipes in the scullery, hardens the butter and lard, stiffens the leathers in mittens and boots; privations continue until April. April, when out in the frost-blasted border hyacinths tips force through, and sun smatters walls in the morning room that hitherto stood in gloom. April. The Chatelaine has endured. Should she shiver, she will fetch the merest shawl. She will fling tall casements open, conjuring airy bowers, She will float aloft the bedsheets on the line; for May, tripping down through springtime’s greening towers, comes like an idiot, babbling and strewing flowers.
Bad Egg This is not the robin in a poem for my mother My mother would say droppings, but I, I must say shit, for it would abrogate the facts to not allude to it, towering on the windowsill, the glass a wingtip-stroke montage of dust and chaff and ordure smears as this one flails and flaps his wings in excrement he’s dropping, frenzied, on the ledge. My mother loved how robins hop, their twiggy legs, their pert head-tilt towards the turf, the quick extraction of a worm, their nesting husbandry. But this one unsheathes talons now, Cockfighter. And they are equals, this bird and that, matching rage, matching peck to vicious peck, so if this bird had raptor spurs, so would that one, in the window, mirroring. And what of the nest, tufty with a thousand straws, what of the pale blue eggs, the tender red-breasted bird, what of the naked hatchlings, pouched, purple-filmed eyes, the nestlings, begging mouths agape? These chicks are carnivores it takes The industry of two to tend. Profligate, this mate forsakes his family for the robin in the glass, a Narcissus, cannot break the spell, yet huffed, affronted, neither does he sweetly kiss the image that exposes him unworthy, bellicose bird of spring. I want to write a poem for my mother remembering, remembering her call, her voice, every March, early March, March 4th or 6th or 9th,, her lovely, optimistic voice: I have seen a robin, dear. Mom. This is not that robin.