Three Poems by Laura Bayless


Beneath a lifetime of collected memories
in mother’s hand-made chest of red cedar,
I find the faces of my maternal kin,
stoic, uncompromising replications
of inherited features,
bristly brows, short noses, suspicious eyes,
consider how we consign our bloodline
to the camera lens of the past,
believe we are first
and last
in line.

Out in the woods
the old ones are left
to lie where they fall,
descendents and antecedents
of the tribes of pine and cypress,
their bodies grayed and engraved
with decay.
Beneath scarred and limbless forms,
the forest reclaims its organic legacies
to nourish another generations.


Inconsistently Aware

Today I rearrange objects on my altar,
display shells next to feathers,
toss out crumbled leaves.

This instant I begin my new life
as a prophetess, diviner of truths,
pilgrim near the end of the path,
virtually enlightened.

I pluck passing cirrus clouds from the sky
with fingertips of consciousness,
sure of my role in the grand scheme.

Today, an unseen purple finch, singing
from the greasewood thicket, brings a dispatch
from an indeterminate and nameless cosmos.

I translate for the unevolved,
rearrange symbols and sounds
into practical perceptions,
consider lichen-coated live oaks
my rightful ancestors.

Tomorrow I will be ordinary again.


Solstice 2004 The Longest Night The Sacred Dark

No hint of dawn in the east yet,
the countless hours of winter darkness
not ready to relinquish their possession
of my mind.

I wander in temples of unrelenting night,
corridors without exits,
wonder what if
daylight never comes.

I have been in the maze
of midnight before,
certain the clock stopped,
leaving me stranded
among a multitude of longings
intermingled with grim memories.

There is nothing to do
but suffer the sluggish minutes
one by one.

This is the portion of life
for which there is no chicken soup,
no platitude, no denouement.

This where I find my demons
and split their skulls with patience.

The light returns.
Even after the longest night,
the many winter penumbras,
I have to believe day will spill out
at the horizon.

I’ve seen it thousands of times,
the faint hint of blue bordering
the black pastures of the sky,
the torch of the sun coming slowly
from its journey on the other side of earth
to wash away remnants
of graveyard shadows.

I am waiting.

Laura Bayless