All posts for the month April, 2013

The Accident

Published April 25, 2013 by rlmcdermott

It did not belong to her,
it was not her memory;
yet, she remembers the
day–the white church with
the green roof, the sun hot
on her face, her mother and sister
lingering on the church steps,
the priest surrounded by young girls
and then the sound.

They all turned their heads,
one head on one neck,
twisting muscle, grinding bone,
turning, turning toward the sound.

It was before air bags,
before seat belts,
before soft metals
and rubber bumpers–
everything was hard.

It did not belong to her;
it was not her memory;
but she remembers–
the doors snapping open,
three white birds falling
to the ground, the open
mouth of her mother,
the blue eyes of the priest,
the smell of jasmine and incense,
a young girl screaming
and, then, silence.Communion Girl

The Muse

Published April 14, 2013 by rlmcdermott

I speak of nothing
and it speaks of me;

this speaking
is my poetry.

I stand alone
on this stark cliff–

a toothy girl
with hungry dreams.

They come
and leave

these fishy men
on boats of pine.

I call their names
with my sharp tongue.

My mouth is
full of words

I cannot say
and so I sing

of better days
that will not come.

A prisoner
of the gods,

I am at sea,

a monster
on a rocky shore,

always calling
and never heard,

always seeking
and never found.The Muse

Hecuba’s Advice To Helen

Published April 10, 2013 by rlmcdermott

As he changed; I changed–
our bodies flattening out
like images on a coin
rubbed thin by a God’s thumb;

That old man, who
once was young,
now seen only as himself–
stooped and graying.

My Priam,
father of two sons,
one faithful,
one foolish,
both Princes of Troy;
soldiers and heroes
all a wife has to give
to a husband
and all a mother
has to give to her
husband’s people–
such are the wages of marriage
and the price of war.

Listen Helen,
if you bear children
pray that they are girls,
not that they should
be exempt from battle,
for women also die in war;
but that they be exempt
from love and give themselves
instead to the gods,
a temple life,
where the marriage bed is unknown
and sons are things that other women bear–
stillborn warriors marching toward
embattled cities as if they were immortal
and made of steelier things than flesh.

Husbands and sons these are a woman’s lot
and, so, it is a joy to grow old
to turn away from the seductions
of a life spent with men.

Yes, an aging husband
in these hard days
is a glorious thing.
Value Paris and hope he lives
beyond the onslaught of this day
and angry Menelaus sitting
cross-legged outside of Troy’s gate. Portrait