S Stephanie

West is everywhere


when your breath itself

is all that carries you

anywhere but here


When you carry a sack of used bandages

from your child-shocked history

and a sack of clean ones for your future


West is where you go

when you have finally become an expatriate

of everything you ever swallowed or slept in


AWOL from yourself, you find yourself

having tea and marveling at

the architecture, even if it’s built of grief


In this new city of you

evenings still make you nervous

but hands in pockets you stroll


taking that daily constitution

you have finally allowed and vowed yourself

 

Fading House


The House. My house. Was it painted blue?

No. That was the sky above it.

Sky-blue. And the sky’s reflection

in the river running alongside it. Dark blue.

Depending on the slants of light.

And the eyes in that house. Oh, the eyes!

Watching the robin’s nest in the ash tree.

Bird egg blue. Precarious sticks.

Resilient Scraps. Storm after loud storm.

At times those eyes mirroring the lightning.

Holding it there and letting it crackle. Drink after

Mother’s drink. Rough hand after Father’s rough hand.

Then the silence after the silence. A gray blue.

A forgotten blue. The color of faded clapboard.


 

This is the third time today


I have gone up in a smoke of color.

It’s not so much that color appears

suddenly and I am burned down by it.

It is more like color speaks brilliantly

then leaves me with mixed messages

and I am laid low by them. I am down

on one knee offering the greenness of grass

my head—here, it’s yours—or the clear blueness

of sky my neck—take it!—But to the rose, I bow

and whisper—I too once had a memory

as red and sharp as you. I don’t know where

my memory will go when I am gone—tell me

please, flower of all our anniversaries—where

do you go each year when the whiteness comes?

(Inspired by the painting Visitation # 3 by Betty Bodian, 1994)


 

S Stephanie’s poetry, fiction and book reviews have appeared in many literary magazines such as Birmingham Poetry Review, Café Review, Cease, Cows, Rattle, St. Petersburg Review, Southern Indiana Review, The Southern Review, The Sun, Third Coast, and Wickford Art Association. She has three chapbooks out, teaches composition and creative writing on the college and community level in New Hampshire, and respects cats. Currently she is an adjunct for New England College at the Institute of Art and Design in Manchester. You can visit her website at http://sstephanie.com/ .