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Western Solstice

L e o n o r e Wi l s o n

Danvers, Massachusetts

Copyright 2011 Leonore Wilson

All Rights Reserved. This book may not be reproduced, in whole or in part, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means without permission from the publisher, except by a reviewer who may quote brief passages. Hiraeth Press books may be purchased for education, business or sale promotional use. For information, please write: Special Markets, Hiraeth Press PO Box 416, Danvers, MA 01923

First Edition 2011 Cover and text design by Jason Kirkey Cover painting: Langelo
ISBN: 978-0-9835852-1-3

Poems from this collection have previously appeared in: Pedestal, The Misfit Library, Blue Fifth Review, Conte, The Benicia Herald, Womens Art Quarterly Journal, A Prairie Journal, Written River, Prism Review, The Prose-Poem Project, Innisfree Poetry, Trivia: Voices of Feminism, Chopin with Cherries: A Tribute in Verse, Identity Theory, Ascent Aspirations Magazine, Rock and Sling, The Furnace Review, Press 1, Slow Trains Literary Journal, Poetry Super Highway, Rattle, Red Wheelbarrow, Squaw Valley Community of Writers Review, Arts Council Napa Valley, Wild Earth, Quarterly West, Chrysalis Reader, Mayday Magazine, Manzanita Review, Madison Review, Third Coast, 2RiverReview, Reed, Nimble Spirit, Poets Against the War (Sam Hamil Anthology), Writers of the Wine Country (Heyday Press), Charon Review, Yellow Silk, Magma, Boxcar Poetry Review, Haight and Ashbury Review, X-Connect, 13th Moon, Umbrella, Fringe, Small Pond, Heyoka, The Adirondack Review, Ascent, Poems for All, Wicked Alice,, Terrain, Poets West, Wild Apples, Mississippi Crow, English Journal

Published by Hiraeth Press Danvers, Massachusetts

The Spring Bearers Force and Beauty Tomoko Uemura is Bathed by Her Mother Theotokos Western Solstice Land Reform Meeting, Estremedura That Easter Sweet Substance June Morning The Coyotes The Dried Pools The Orchards Orpheus Soft Gesture Inheritance Lieder Listening to Martinu Small Portrait The Snake Hortus Conclusus Letter A Benevolent Morning Toad My Country Swooning Spring Gods Sky Matter The Creation of Desire World as Church Linden What the Grasses Wear Lake Havasu City Salton Sea Covenant The God Module Vetch Black Dawn Dark-in-Light Athene Noctua Gutted Buck At the Grave of Abdul Hassn, Baghdad vi 3 5 6 8 10 11 13 16 17 18 19 20 22 23 24 25 26 37 28 29 31 33 35 36 37 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 50 52 54 56 58 60 62

Window in the Morning Pig Spit The Roses Soft Object Winter Russulas Female Elegy The Cattle Their Genesis Broken Symmetry Early Universe Cadere The Monarchs The Ptarmigans Dilemma Temperate Place Seep-Spring Monkeyflowers About the Author 63 65 66 67 69 70 72 74 75 78 80 82 83 85 86 89


The Spring-Bringers
for Susan Edwards Richmond

Are vanishing; take for instance the turtle dove unable to breed as it once did principally due to the weed seeds diminishment; and the cuckoo whose calamity continues as a tide of pesticides skiffles across the fields triggering the wooly caterpillar decline . . . . Try to imagine a world without wood warbler, flycatcher, wrentit, jay; no longer a stubborn rustling in the underbrush, that unfailing pleasing semitone akin to flickering bereavement and regret. And when our soundscape disappears . . . what of further loss: rivers, running water; and what will be greater the demise of skinks, chicory, or dusky wings,

when promised seasons have no boundaries, when budbursts begin too early, when wild landscapes shrink to islands and when

darkness covers light; will that mean there is no privacy, and every residence a nest exposed . . . .

Force and Beauty

If a woman hadnt been out walking her dog, they might never have found the body among the miners lettuce and jimson weed, the young nurse may have lain at the base of the creek invisible to the naked eye for months, years unfolded thing becoming a part of the hypothetical West, her blue-violet flesh cleaving like roots to soil, disappearing into the unconscious season when lovers wait for the cleansing rains to pass like a row of low-lying goldfinches over the reborn lavender . . . . But nothing is quite transparent in these California hills where the mist gathers and vanishes, where one still finds toothed obsidian flakes, beads and bones of those long ago who knew the trails exquisitely well, for here we all walk over burial-grounds without hesitation or reverence like ravening swine in a slippery mire knocking down the prevailing trees in our wake, mangling the grasses, branding everything mine as that girl was branded, the one who had been stabbed twice through the heart, whose probable killer is still on the loose; how the blood shudders knowing he looks up and sees the same paternal heaven, the same cardinal clouds, that he journeys here and there with the living sun on his back, someone like us created in the likeness of God defined by his own piercing, his own unbearable shape.

Tomoko Uemura is Bathed by Her Mother

after a photograph by W. Eugene Smith

The small shoulders of Tomoko sprout hands like the beginning of flowering, the first leaves on the Aesculus californicus in February . . . . But this is not beautiful or meant to be, thin girl blighted by nuclear fusion, deformed as some might say: a travesty, limbs not really human, crooked as found in the most wild landscapes of the Pacific, pine-bent, cypress twisted, but this is not beautiful, or meant to be . . . . And yet the mother whose daughter is stretched across her lap like Christ has that beneficent Mary face as she looks down at this one she has created; she has placed her maternal body naked inside the bath water too as if saying I am a part of you, I am the sponge that absorbs the outlandish pain, the unimaginable human cross of what war creates; our bodies are one again, as trunk is knitted to branch to twig . . .

your suppurating skin, the sap that sticks to my flesh as the colostrum that once oozed from my breasts, and this water that is taking our blood, our chaff , is ours exchanged as when I first created you in my womb, when you were merely a speck of light, a light of pure goodness with all the potential of that goodness, my darling that I still see in your blinded eyes.


Light coming out of the darkness, out of the earth out of the blue throat of the little owl mouth, and in the center of that light, she covered with dirt like those who work the death-mile fields of the San Joaquin; flushed out dove from the wild pyracantha, Persephone ascending from Hades like a wounded Billy Holliday tune spilling from the jukebox; La Morena, Nuestro Senora de Guadalupe, black twin of Lazarus, how do you explain to the teenage daughters of Albania that they are loved but basically inessential, that a woman is just a sack of rice made to endure, how do you explain to the bride at her nuptials when her parents give her new husband a bullet as a gift a symbol of his power over her; Heavenly ladder, they cover you in white, they have Made you asexual, castrated you Mary, called you Regina which keeps you confined from us, keeps you passive and inferior and impossible; they have argued over your hymen if it is broken or intact, they say Salome insisted to examine you but her hand caught on fire but Christ saved you so your hymens intact, so what, and what makes you want to return

to us now when the earth has lost so much of its beauty, its fruitfulness, when it is scarred like a child beaten and left in a closet to lick at its wounds; better Mary to stay like water at His side, better not to appear in tortillas, glass buildings, what assurance can you give us that our bodies will heal?

Western Solstice

Here the scrub oaks shadows veiled the propitiatory flowers, The meadow never seeing lean-tos or ramshackle chicken coops, Tangles of barbed wire; here one summer I rode a cutting horse out Where the acreage was free of cattle, and almost took a spill Because of a rattler like a prophetess that reproached me. Now there is no calling of frogs or chipmunks or sparrows, No black glass chipped into the pure accuracy of arrows. Someone is chopping wood non-stop with a trace of blood On his chin, tossing limbs here and there like unfinished sentences. Someones mind is on fire to possess, uproot, subdue, While another riding a bulldozer, hums a little tune to himself, Leaving in his wake, gleaming trails of spit like pneumonia. The days are becoming shorter, not simply because its winter. Oh poor trapped earth, the sun grips the map of your death While the recoiling wolf at your core, continues to howl and shiver.


My Country
There are roads to take when you think of your country. Muriel Rukeyeser

And what if I witness but do not choose, if I merely drive by, pull back thinking of the one and only, if I am that complacent to the woman with the purple bruises around her neck, scourged neck, crown of the black and blue. Christ I see her weeping next to the oversized tattooed drunk of a man. And what if I choose not to aid her stalled U-haul, overheated smoking machine of the underworld, near where the wild irises bloom their white flags from the red soil, where the unnamable general in his nineteenth century bliss shot one of the last Wappos from paradise. And what if I choose not to aid her, an entire life stuffed in that trucks carapace, what if I drive by keeping my thumb in my book because I am terrified, made numb and dumb as the virgin girl when the word made flesh entered her here, when the ordinary mud swallow sang, dove hollowed out; she who was asleep, daydreaming, preferring the milk of the cathedral, girl who knew there are blue abrasions in the meadows, that light could scald; she who knew men with eyes in their chests, slobs, dogs, big babies smoking pipes. What if I drive by, choosing to look the other way, mother, wife, because it is spring in my country, and in spring it is easier to be ignorant, unaccountable, then what, then who will stop, then who. 36

World as Church
Just think of the blossoming parsnip, or the button quail as divinity, try to see the rising moon as so or the touch of the iris tongue, also the early hawk as it perches on the black oak or the thin lanky hindquarters of the ant, the matted camellias thundering the porch with petal, discover the small motes of the dried pea, its husk like the cry of the pine cricket, and the dogma of arroyos and snow-melt, the passion of needle grass and berries and mistletoe in December when it reaches out to us with is heady midriff; the world is church, is chapel, altar, blood, and body in its soft skin and its fervor, in all the salt-vacancies of the ocean in dawn and dusk, the affirmation of God collects in the russet-headed grass of summer and in the tattered fungi and the fistfuls of snails and sand verbena and the wings of the sycamore; the hedgehog in his hole knows the wisdom of Leviticus, considers passages from Proverbs because his face is always open to the glaze of morning, as is the nude body of the seahorse under the oceans momentum, everything of earth is the krill of the cathedral, the field and forest anticipates its potential as assuredly as the barn owl crouches to enwrap the vole with its talons, the gospel manifests itself in the facets of light and the falling of water, angels both of them, what more proof do we need that pollen hold reverence and constellations hold transformation, what proof exists at the core of the orb is there for our asking, there like any element, in abiding beauty, the wholeness of the finite fecund for our delight. 42

About the Author

Leonore Wison has taught at various universities and colleges in the San Francisco Bay Area. She continues to live on her family cattle ranch in Napa, California. She has won fellowships to the University of Utah and Villa Montalvo Center for the Arts. Her work has been in such magazines as Quarterly West, Madison Review, Third Coast, Poets Against the War, Nimble Spirit, and Trivia: Voices of Feminism. She is the mother of three sons.


We are passionate about creativity as a means of transforming consciousness, both individually and socially. We hope to participate in a revolution to return poetry to the public discourse and a place in the world which matters. Of the many important issues of our times we feel that our relationship to the environment is of the most fundamental concern. Our publications reflect the ideal that falling in love with the earth is nothing short of revolutionary and that through our relationship to nature we can birth a more enlightened vision of life for the future. We believe that art and poetry are the universal language of the human experience and are thus most capable of transforming our vision of self and world.

Visit us on the web at: P.O. Box 416 Danvers, MA 01923

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