Season With No Name
No trappings of winter today. Not a ripple in the harbor.
Flat. No ice. No snow. No chill rips through my bones.
My breath invisible in the air. Too early for spring,
this no-name season. Last month waves crashed
through the bushes into the yard, left a new pond
when the tide receded. Just up the road, another.
And the year turned. I go out to walk under the arch
of trees where the road narrows. Nothing fresh here
except for a few snowdrops. And the light—the sky brilliant
as July. Have the ashen bones of the familiar shifted?
Swarms of refugees still cross over their borderlands.
The dying earth can’t feed them. In his pasture,
the farmer is fattening three new steer, yellow,
numbered tags in their ears—14, 23, 6.
The Creek of My Adolescence
Not a straight shot, Cedar Creek
takes a wild curve now and then,
along a dark length of unpaved road,
dark enough for couples,
where once I counted forty
spent condoms on
my walk home, and above
the creek, in the alley behind
our house, Jules Willen’s
garage, clean enough to lick
the floor, where he had to
smoke his cigars, and once when
he was traveling on business
and Mary, his wife, was afraid,
she asked my brother,
eleven years old, to sleep
over and he claimed she
made him sleep in her bed,
which I don’t believe, but strange
things happened on Cedar Creek,
like the man who exposed himself
to me, a pre-teen, and the humid
night in the Rose Garden
when I almost stopped
breathing from asthma,
the same night Matt fell in love
with me and called the hospital
to find out what to do instead
of taking me home, and
the creek burbled over
rocks, muffling the sounds
of the boys performing
a circle jerk creek side,
where, indifferent to us all,
Cedar Creek flowed on.
I Wish This Were A Love Poem
I couldn’t love my mother.
She didn’t touch me much. I saw her hug my father
and sometimes in the night I heard them.
Pain was to be endured, wet hair rubbed hard
with a rough towel.
I remember how much she wanted me to look just like her,
matching ruffled pinafores, my straight hair she permed
to curl like hers, in a violent stinky process for a four-year-old.
I can’t remember holding on to her for comfort,
waited till my father came home.
Even though she sat me up on a kitchen stool
and taught me to make a vinaigrette,
let me play hooky to see a matinee of Peter Pan with Mary Martin,
even though we went to George Nakashima’s studio
to pick a slab of walnut for our table,
even though she read me A.A. Milne: Mother, he said, said he:
You must never go down to the end of the town if you don’t go down with me,
I still couldn’t love her.
I bet you think you look nice, I said, when she came downstairs
in a black cocktail dress. I made her cry.
My father was on her side, not saying much,
because Frank Sinatra sang what was inside him.
My mother didn’t talk to me about my period, or sex,
or warn me about waiting for a man who showed me care and respect.
In my teens we fought every night about drying dishes,
something between us circling like an eddy.
She came to help after I had my son. I begged her every night,
just sit with me and the baby. Leave the dishes.
She needed to get things done,
filled my head with doing, so that today
I don’t have time when you want to hold me.
Why did my father have to die first, die young with little warning?
I definitely couldn’t love her after that.
Margot Wizansky’s chapbook, Wild for Life, was published with Lily Poetry Review Books (2022). The Yellow Sweater, her full-length poetry collection, is forthcoming from Kelsay Press in 2023. Her poems have appeared online and in many journals such as The American Journal of Poetry, The Missouri Review, Bellevue Literary Review, Ruminate, River Styx, Cimarron, and elsewhere. She edited two anthologies: Mercy of Tides: Poems for a Beach House, and Rough Places Plain: Poems of the Mountains. She co-edited What the Poem Knows, a tribute to Barbara Helfgott Hyett, her teacher. She won two residencies, one with Writers@Work in Salt Lake City and also with Carlow University in Sligo, Ireland. Margot has recently retired from a career developing housing for adults with disabilities. She lives in Massachusetts.
on Greg McBride