Poems from Before the Monsoon

Author(s): 
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Desert Waters

The Bellagio casino glimmers
above a round blue lake.
Outside the Tropicana
waterfalls pour over fake rocks.

All night under the desert moon
the profligate water splashes,
sparkling like silver coins.

Four hundred miles south
three braceros lie down to die
beside empty plastic bottles.

The moonlight gleams on
their soft brown faces, glints in
their lost dark eyes.

 

Come Swimmer

Come, swimmer. I am glad to be alive
now that you have come to this good place

where we can play together.
          from I Heard the Owl Call My Name
          by Margaret Craven

Salmon-like, returning from the foam,
I sit in the stillness of a First Day
morning, weep salt tears to be at home
after a quarter century away.
“Come Swimmer,” You whisper in my heart,
clear as ocean wave or dancing gleam
of kelp on sandy bottom, miles apart
from other souls, where beauty healed my pain.
Here silver bodies sway in silent pools,
welcome my hungry self, too long alone,
into living water, this lost tribe and You.
Light ripples through me, fills the room with song.
My rainbow treasures, garnered in the deep,
in gathered grace I offer at Your feet.

 

Water Rings of my Mother

Tell me of the waters of your home-world, MauDib.
from
Dune by Frank Herbert

McKenzie river shimmers with trout, tumbles over stones
lapped by ferns, under the cool shade of Douglas firs.

East Lake in Newberry Crater is cold as green glass,
black obsidian beaches, calligraphy of fine white sand.

We swim, our pale arms glimmer, the lake is deep.
An osprey dives, her talons skim the water,
          rise with a silver fish.

Sparks Lake, a sea of golden grass.  Blackbirds soar and fall.
We eat plums in the sun.
          Cold mist swirls on the Sisters high above.

Clouds build and a storm rolls in over the mountains.
Rain sheets down, thunder shivers the forest.

Marilyn Lake is a blue sapphire, my mother’s wedding ring.
Tiny flowers sparkle, fir and spruce circle the water.

Her ashes are chalk, white, gritty, shards of cracked bone.
We sit by the grave, son, daughters, grandson,
          grand-daughters.

A thousand tiny black frogs carpet the trail,
We wash our hands in the lakes’ pure water.

“I caught the biggest fish, right here”, says Paul, and
I see my father in a yellow raft,
          my mother’s brown hair shining.

Willamette, Clackamas, Columbia, Puget Sound.
I wade in Hood River Canal, red starfish beneath my toes,

We walk the beach on Whidby Island, sand and driftwood,
seaweed smells, the fragile pale peach shells of crabs.

Ft. Worden lighthouse, the Straights of Juan de Fuca. 
Pacific freighters slide across the sky from China.

The Issaquah ferry curves past bright sailboats into fog,
her horn calls, “Here, I’m Here,” to a soft gray world.
A thousand tiny black frogs carpet the trail.