Laurinda Lind lives in the U.S. in New York State’s North Country, near Canada. Some poetry publications/ acceptances have been at Algebra of Owls, Antiphon, Antithesis Journal, Constellations, Crannóg, Soliloquies, Sonic Boom, and Two Thirds North; also anthologies Visiting Bob: Poems Inspired by the Life and Work of Bob Dylan (New Rivers Press) and AFTERMATH: Explorations of Loss and Grief (Radix Media). In London in April, she won the 2018 Keats-Shelley Prize for adult poetry.
I was allowed to run outside
for hours, cliffs where I could have fallen
on rocks below, docks
that I fell off more than once.
But I wasn’t supposed to play
near the wellhouse where the pump
clicked and whirred through dark and light
nor climb on its roof, though it seemed the right
height for a girl who wanted a place to rise.
The stone steps that led there
were the place to skin knees
from running down too fast to the day,
so I spat on green leaves to make
them stick over raw spots
where they held better glued by blood.
Nearby: the smell of damp stone and of the pungent
peppery weeds I never picked after two weeks
with poison ivy. This was the spot
where my friend’s brother, Lee Atchinson,
waited to laugh at me the summer I turned thirteen,
to tell me I looked like a fish in my new black
bathing suit, and I only stared back
because I knew my cousin Jack would have broken
his nose for him. And later, in the night,
he leaned again by the old gray wood building
with the pump counting its rounds behind the door
to step from the dark and ask was I ready yet.
So no. No, I was not ready, and I pushed him back
and sped the steps to where my parents
sat above, reading by a naked bulb, with the windows
wide open to the night air, where in the fragrant black
we could hear every twig that snapped below, and they looked
but didn’t say anything, and that was the last time for the next
ten years that my life was my very own
to squander by the verge.
On Edgar Degas
A Woman Ironing 1873
What dazzles doesn’t stay
down flat, I could tell them
that, but they haven’t breathed
fiber the way I have, followed
thoroughfares of thread
into the countries of cloth.
They think only their bodies
are alive, not the wrapping
that rides them, they think
only the sky can glow from
inside itself. But what passes
through my hands still feels
sun and sends it spraying,
steaming all over the room.
He’s been dead thirty-eight years
which seemed soon to us then
and gone from Greece nearly sixty,
yet in the mornings he still pounds
the milk pans downstairs at dawn
the same way he did in nineteen
forty. I neither feel nor know that
my grandfather got stuck going
to his goats over and over at five
a.m. in the space where strangers
now live, but he didn’t like having
to wake first, so the house he built
held it for him and still plays it back
as a favorite song because a home,
too, has a sense of humor. Some
thing inside here doesn’t want us
to sleep, the new owner said to my
aunt, who grew up groggy in that
place. Yeah, said my aunt. He was
early for everything. Even eternity.