Six Poems of Change

Previously unpublished and revised poems Copyright © 2010 by Michael Smetzer


The Oak and the Sassafras
The girl pronounced him an oak,
herself a mitten tree,
supple under his strong limbs.
Her red hair growing up
into his iron gray.
Now fire burns in his snow;
dead limbs creak on her crown.

(first published in Mostly Maine)


Second Wife

The bride greets her husband’s children
at their door.
The husband hands each child a lily.
He hands the bride hard candy.
He folds his arms as they exchange
these gifts.
The wife will make dinner
while the children play.
The children will wash dishes
while the wife reads.

(first published in Mostly Maine)


Two Approaches to the Lake
At sunrise
the last snow withdraws its fog
into the fissures
and braces among the rocks.
In the lake below,
River falls from sky
and boils in the pool.
Brown sinews slip through rocks
and foam.
sunflames shudder
on deep water.
A skiff sets out
along the shore.

(first published in Kennebec)


Her Brother’s Debt
Owing his widowed foreman a great debt,
the brother brought his sister overseas.
She came mute, her thoughts folded
     in her bags.
At breakfast she listened like a table
     to their sounds.
She married with his dishes in the sink.
She has unleashed the foreman’s toddler
     from the line.
She has taught the foreman’s son to sing,
his oldest daughter to braid her hair,
and the foreman to snore gently
through her dreams.

(first published in Chants)


The Unwanted Arrival
His mother comes to stay,
her faith a mountain in his rooms.
He shuts his vices in the closet,
and they talk of herbs.
Sundays and Wednesdays
her candles burn at church.
Fridays and Saturdays
his fires flame through bars.


Rising Above
She admits them but
opens no liquor.
Three years they’ve been
digging her grave.
Now her thoughts are
thunder and rain.
Their heads are old
snags in her river.
She rises above 
and floats free.
She will row on her
waters to the sea.

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