Central California Writers 3rd Place Winner, Poetry
(on my mother’s birthday)
Here you are again, you players
on my night stage. You always write
your own script. You resist direction.
You go your own ways, mysterious,
subtle, seductively obtuse. Your shows
are cast with zoos of mythic species. Minotaurs
waltz with elephants. Anhingas mate
with dodo birds. Giant moas wander
among the reeds as improbable
as ever. Mermaids and unicorns
flirt with each other. Grey wolves
lurk out of sight. But they are there.
They are always there.
To what do I owe this visit? Did I
invite you? Did I forget to list you
in the Acknowlegements of my new book?
Let me assure you, you are present
on every page. You live in the fissured
bark of trees felled for the paper
on which my poems are printed. You’re
pigment in the ink in which my words
appear. You haunt the air they live in,
waving your ghost hand between the letters.
Let’s make a deal, mother. I’ll sing
you happy birthday every year, holding
the high note, like a brilliant February star.
I’ll remember the piano, delivered from
the salvage yard. The silver g-clef
earrings. The tulle prom gown – fifteen
dollars scrounged from nowhere. Therefore,
I recognize your squatter’s rights. And so
I deed to you the land you prowl.
You may live in my woods forever.
For your part, all I ask is that
you ask permission to visit,
and knock before entering my house.
Marian Kaplun Shapiro