Three Poems, by Ellen Reed.


The old poets nudge knowingly
page to page murmurs about love, death, the sea
100 years at a turn, salt-grasses combed continually
by their autumn wind, truth morsels and fallen leaves, they share
crisp from the plate, sip and pass the old church bell.
Unforeseen am I, hidden by this lap-top hell
so lost are my eyes, craning to fill
television screens and windshields
blocking a drift of pine needles, nor can their poem
justify my stare, or answer
these blank fingers tapping on the glass
the Morse code of an ass.

The swimmer and the sea

The dip and cry of gulls.
Like a man's expression
The face of the sea!
The tine scrambling under ledges
in recurring tidepools of his thoughts.
Tsk and thump of waves
carried high with salt-sparked wind...

She runs a hand over a smooth line of herself,
a hull of buoyant instincts.
Her feet push into the hard wet sand.
She observes the currents of this man
deep and strong
clear as water in her hand
yet opaque in the horizon
the line he sharpens
beyond her gaze, her longing...

Unexpectedly, his closest edge expands
ambushing her toes, over-filling the ledge
dissolving her grip on the sand
as she goes to meet him,
grasped at the knees then pulled by the waist
she slips in with a breath, wrapped tight as skin
and felt, every warm inch, by the sea.

The last decimal place

The calculation of our break-up is an ongoing operation to find some correct answer,
meaning mediaeval precision comes sleepless to our sheathed memory, stripped
like a wire by trembling mathematician or amateur electrician hands twisting
these bright copper strands of our uncounted hours apart, currently found
strung throughout walls and re-runs, connecting at the floor to a black
endless cable feeding the night, emptying more time into this space.
This factoring, timeless divisor is leaving you as the remainder.
Long division doesn't give up for lost only this many places
to the right of the dot. A whole number is coming yet,
in muted images thinner than the glassed screen
finer than threads of light, firing each shock
underground, swerving backwards down
the cable weaving past things buried
horizontally in the earth out there.
To you, your high-noon shovel,
wet arms alive with straining
still pouring out the beaten
boy's hot tears, my last
cry, minutely focused
into pale noise, may
with arithmetic ear
break down to
someday be

Ellen Reed retired from 10 years in the skydiving/parachute equipment industry and settled in Glenmont, NY in 1993. She makes poetry, short stories, miniature drawings and paintings, and shows her work every two years or so. She drives a school bus, restores old photographs and paintings, and competes in state and national archery tournaments.

To Of(f)course home page

To Index of this issue.