Oaks and Orchids

Poems by Sarah Whiteside Slocum

I never knew there was a word
for my favorite roar
When shakes rattle
your bones
and you turn, face upwards
for first drops
from dark and cloudy sky

(BRONTIDE)

Sweet tea, smacking of South,
in red solo cups on your front porch.
1980’s plastic banded chairs,
white and pastel stripes.
The constant statement –
“Your Daddy gets this
table when I’m gone.
Yes sir.”
An exhale that’s half
whistle, arms crossed
in the sun,
skin rough from
decades ago,
and the gas heat
set to febrile peak.

Tara and I sprawled on carpet
peppering out questions
about faces in photo albums,
Christmas cards an
Arc de Triomphe
in the living room.

I know you’re up there,
sitting, watching planes
fly by, and talking.
Hug them all for me, too,
Granny.

(MEMORIES, For Faye Grose Long, 4/21/1916 – 2/27/2013)

Autumn’s a fickle player,
a tide that bids adieu
for a mid-day heat wave
but frosts windows sometime
during night.

3 AM thunderstorm
swapped nightmares for
dreams of hazy, golden October

(September’s Wednesday)

Settle back
into books,
cocoon paper
and metal
three-rings
bound to
ever-evolving
vocabulary
more words,
and bigger

Grass slick with
dew on three-mile
run
fresh sun
burns fog and
Rex licks up
the green.
Look up –
mist-entwined
eighty-foot oaks,
rough bark clings
to morning robe,
Don’t Look:
Think.

Rex pulls left
Bluetick in him
nose to ground
Could I be so
interested
ignore bite of cold
metal then relent?
Nothing there but
dust trampled daily,
neurons on
stimulation overload

Shepherd barks,
Rex’s ears prick
I rein him in –
we’re still going
this way.

(RUN IN AUGUST)

REX

105 degrees outside on 29th June
Brought him home hours ago but he still pants.
Power’s out and Mom left at 5.

Walk outside to check my car
gas light’s on – I never filled up
before Hawai’i.
Made Alex throw all the extra candles out
– why keep them, they’re unscented –
Air’s off and I sweat.
Phone died sometime after 8
all the analog clocks are packed
a single tea light only burns so long.

Chainsaws roar – for trees on lines or roads?

Pull the old cassette player from “SPEAKERS” box
unpeel plastic from ON BLUE NOTE
– copy from Bill, not Amazon –
put it in with two AA’s.
Listen.
Just listen.

I think you could make a record Bill, only
please let Bev do all the singing.

Neighbor’s toddler jumps in mud puddle as
raccoon dives into gutter.
I miss these places you’re talking of –
Boston, South End, Storrow and its cars. But mostly 77,
columns and classes, the bench in 1, my lab

Getting darker now – birds are back
but I’d like some English Breakfast Tea
to accompany this blazing sunset

(for william corbett)

(REX) - in case you can’t read the small PDF :)

I bought a carton of raspberries
at the market. Every time
I drop one in my mouth
I can’t resist rolling it around
my tongue. The fuzziness –
sparse, exquisite roughness, your stubbled
cheek against mine while you
hug my worries away.
The way they crunch when chewed.
Reminder – they’ve seen days of
sun and won’t give up so easy.
There’s a stain on my favorite
old sweatshirt to prove it.

West Virginia’s starting to smell
of honeysuckle. Delicious.
I roll down all the windows,
stick my head out like the coonhound
in that battered pickup. Inhale until
lightheaded I’m delirious with smiles.


(MAY)

I like to lie on my living room floor
and listen to the tv downstairs –
the voices low and male,
like they’re always watching
Face the Nation.

Mara takes a bath beneath our
mahogany coffee table.
I can see semi-circles drawn in marker
on the ceiling of her cave –
I thought it made a great
canvas when I was three.
To Mara – I’m an ancient
artist, I suppose.

(THE UNDERBELLY)

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