Tuesday, June 30, 2009

July 2009

This month features Karen Kelsay

In My Daughter's Town

An October sky props a yellowing sycamore
beneath its chin and thinks about snow.
Here, in my daughter’s town, Pollyanna

and Tom Sawyer still climb trees and gather
apples for mom’s pie. Women hand stitch
quilts and give them to the needy.
Basements are lined with shelves, stacked
with preserves and canned food. Little boys

join Boy Scouts and earn an eagle badge.
Today, two teenage girls wheeled up
with a wagon full of pumpkins:
Would you like one? Our garden
produced too many this year.

On Sunday, front doors open and close,
almost in unison, as neighbors walk
to church--the way their parents

and grandparents always have. Through good
or bad times, everyone lives in each other’s pockets
like an extended family.

Each year I visit here a few times, blowing
Pacific breezes to the back of my mind.
I forget that I live in a metropolis, not knowing
my neighbor’s names.

In my daughter’s town, I walk among remnants
of summer flowers and view undeveloped hills,
finding new appreciation for magnificent trees
that have stood strong for generations--
and wonder if this Californian palm
could ever survive a transplant.

Beyond the Gate

Children are not allowed to enter this room.
Here, white walls rise like water lilies
from hibiscus-red carpet, and crystal grapes

become small prisms that capture and emit
an array of four o’clock suns onto the coffee table.
A ruby-caped matador peers down at the sofa,

while The Girl From Ipanema waits
to be played on the stereo. A Spanish woman,
cross nestled in her cleavage, reflects dark eyes

in the long mirror. Herb Alpert, Julie Andrews,
and Robert Goulet records are stacked
inside the carved cabinet. A massive wrought iron

gate at the doorway keeps little fingers and feet
off white upholstery, where the slinky cat
lies on the best chair.

Karen Kelsay is a native Californian who grew up near the Pacific and loves writing about the sea and nature. Her poems have been published in many magazines over the past few years. She is the author of Collected Poems and Fist of Roots, by Puddinghouse Press.