Orange is the single-hearted color. I remember How I found them in a vein beside the railroad, A bumble-bee fumbling for a foothold While the poppies' petals flagged beneath his boot. I brought three poppies home and two buds still sheathed. I amputated them above the root. They lived on artlessly Beside the window for a while, blazing orange, bearing me No malice. Each four-fanned surface opened To the light. They were bright as any orange grove. I watched them day and night stretch open and tuck shut With no roots to grip, like laboratory frogs' legs twitching Or like red beheaded hens still hopping on sheer nerves. On the third afternoon one bud tore off its green glove And burst out brazen as Baby New Year. Two other poppies dropped their petals, leaving four Scribbly yellow streamers on a purple-brimmed and green Conical cadaver like a New Year's hat. I'd meant to celebrate with them, but they seemed So suddenly tired, these aging ladies in crocheted Shawl leaves. They'd once been golden as the streets Of heaven, now they were as hollow. They couldn't pull together for a last good-bye. I had outlived them and had only their letters to read, Fallen around the vase, saying they were sorry.
Sandra McPherson - 1943-
Driving in Circles with the Blind
I have enough retablos of visions, ex-votos of rescues, for a shrine in a corner of my home to pray for release from the mind's mad portraitist-- Wendy's sick green angel of the asylum, William's fisherman curled up in his own tackle box, Alice's hunched figure outlined with scraping fingernail through blue gouache. I've seen how lunacy spells people, hello in a möbius monologue, a post-tribulationist vaudeville act of God. One night when I was about to furl into sleep and fathom some new low dream of fear (blind cave cricket dream would do it), not knowing whether by morning jangles would be re-wound, or backbone built, I heard a knock at the door, I rose from bed, and hesitated until the rap said who it was, then I unlocked all brass latches to the night and my own flesh and blood. A long white limousine blinded the street. But who does she know who owns anything? They pooled and rented it because I was the mother her friends wanted to meet. The door to it stood wide and, inside, two strange faces phosphoresced-- from some cold arson of the mind? Even though they could not see me, they implored me to ride with them. I left home barefoot, bowed into the limousine. The driver began to move us swiftly over the ground. One rider's name was Ronnie. He called the young woman ÕÓOs. Os is not her real name. Os is her simple name, oneness, oddness, own-ness. Os is her owl name, her night name. She desires O0000OOOO small circles. Can she feel this large one, this tire-tread round of miles we begin? She has a circular face and pretty, dark corkscrews of curls. She craves circles drawn in the foundling-skin palm of her hand--a wispy, sprouted wand pruned for use in pagan ceremony. She rubs the round bevel of the watch crystal on my wrist. A hoop, a loop, a noose, they're all her thing. Then she slides forward, drops to her knees in front of me, her arms encircle my waist, she calls it Mother, she names it Sis. Ronnie, everyone knows, will speechify full speed, filibuster all he understands is missing. Neither he nor Os can walk. Anymore. They both love wheels and feel them fasten on like flesh. They want to take their wheelchairs to Hawaii and my daughter to fix them. But we are just circling a dark school, Ralph Waldo Emerson Junior High, owl-calls over its empty track, the invisible percussion of its tennis courts, its uncheering football fields. We are driving around the dark estate of public knowledge. In our mobile asylum one echolalic delights another, lingers in the shell of mimic music, appeals to me to impersonate them both. The more we say what each other says, the more we vow we're different. But aren't we all--or aren't they, at least-- God's creatures? God's creatures know the OOOÖÖOOOOõõõOOOO 00000ÔÔÔÔÒÒÒÒÒOOõõõõ OOOOØØØØØOOOO OOOOOOOOÕÕooooooooooo 000000000000000000000 oooo°°°°°°°°OOOOO OOOOòòòòòòòøø°/oo°/oo°/oo°/oo°/oo°/oo°/oo oo, all the Os that open up the night sky (in or out of the mind) and pattern it with awe. So far I can ask the coachman to slow to a stop, if I choose; I can open the door to re-enter the world solid as a consonant. But God's creatures put their spin on it. And life by life God's brood is lifted out where each one rents, the point on the arc, the warp on the bend. May each have an oasis. A moat. A moon phasing in. A mother in mind. Release. May each have a prayer, even if on waking they go out to touch their dream's circumference and find it too mean but at least real, a wheelbarrow, a roller skate, a shopping cart, a one-speed bike, on the sidewalk, at the curb, ready to go forward, idling, a little way. . .