Wind and Wet Leaves
A high wind slaps through maple leaves,
scattering and swirling into wet carpeting
that I will have to rake soon.
I don’t mind raking leaves.
I appreciate the wet ones
because they are easier to set in piles
and don’t fly away during bagging.
But today my mind, after seven decades
on our blue planet, is stuck like wet leaves.
A damp and cold epiphany
slides onto the cement of my brain,
thoughts I would like to sweep
under this carpet of cold leaves:
I have made enemies on this earth,
I have pissed off some folks,
not everyone likes me.
The wind cuffs me on the side of the head.
It has taken me nearly seventy years
to admit this. Maybe I talk too much
or not enough.
The wind shears my face,
cold tears from my eyes,
like the leaves under my feet,
the only sound the sweeping of leaves,
then the surprising fervor of a cardinal,
and the rat- tat-tat
of the red-bellied woodpecker.
The Eve of Daylight Savings Time
Maybe someday in the dark
just before Daylight Savings Time
when an unnamed foreboding lurks
in the crevices of vague, unhappy
dreams, I will give up, not
say to myself: Things are OK,
get going, grab that coffee.
Yes, you struggle with a few issues.
Perhaps I will not write this poem,
feed the cat, make breakfast,
rake the brilliant maple leaves.
I admit it’s getting easier
to stay inside all day. No.
I plan a trip to the ocean,
a visit to a friend
all the way across the vast country,
on the one and only perfect blue planet.
I have lost another thought mid-air.
I would tell you what the thought was,
but as you can see, I don’t remember it.
Tomorrow is my sixty-ninth birthday.
I remember that. I remember 1969,
a year etched into my psyche like no other,
the dark paisley magic and Woodstock rain,
stepping out of the American Dream
into the Purple Haze, leaving behind
domestic and tame expectations.
I still haven’t recovered the thought
lost in mid-air, but I remember 1969,
flying over the North Pole,
Knights in White Satin on headphones,
above the clouds above our blue planet,
heading into the gray smoky haze of Russia,
letting my head go wherever it wanted to go,
not concerned about losing thoughts mid-air.
So far the misplaced thoughts have returned,
falling from the clouds,
dropping back into my brain like rain
when I am in a Zen zone of routine,
perhaps feeding the cat or folding laundry,
not exactly flying over the North Pole.
So far not one thought has evaporated for keeps.
I still have not retrieved today’s escaped thought,
dangling mid-air like a star
on this morning’s horizon.
I count on catching it soon,
I surely will,
and wish myself another happy birthday,
head still mid-air in the clouds.
Christine Swanberg is a well-known, award-winning Midwest poet who has been writing and publishing for about forty years. Nine collections of books or chapbooks have been published by various national presses, most recently Wild Fruition: Sonnets, Spells, and Other Incantations (Puddin’head); as well as Who Walks Among the Trees With Charity (Wind); and The Red Lacquer Room (Chiron Press) to name a few. Hundreds of her poems have appeared in anthologies and journals such as the June Cotner books (Earth’s Blessings; Gratitude Prayers), Chiron (regular contributor), Spoon River Quarterly, Soundings, Out of Line, Plainsongs, AVocet, BEloit Poetry Journal, and many others. She has been interviewed extensively in Poet’s Market and other venues as well as garnering featured readings at the Frye Museum in Seattle through Poetswest contest, Untitled Town conference, the Emily Dickenson Poetry series in Door County, and Waterline. She has been nominated for several Pushcarts and won several literary and community awards.