the healing muse

Volume 13, 2013

Two poems by Claudia M. Reder


Inhale the hum of citrus, a slice of glisten in the glass,
the bright acerbic marker that glides onto the plate,
Help yourself to the yellow shining, green with ripening
brown with dying, groundswell of lemon, ellipsoidal yellow
in our year. The rind sings in semitones.
Encounter them blending in with the orange trees,
beneath the fig tree, lemonspill like a flurry of flour airing
the bread baker’s marble board; its flawless
flesh barely sweet, then tart, leaving
the mouth fresh, and fingers searching for more.

For D. R. Sculptor

Girl on a Fence,
eight inches tall, cast in bronze, sits on a sill
so that we look out of the same window.
She straddles the present, my past,
and the marvel of daydream.

When I look at her, I am ten.
I am the girl on the fence,
wrapped up in books.
I read Chekhov’s biography,
then Catullus. Not understanding what I read
the words glide by on their own slopes.

After school I hike down the hill
to the Carnegie Library
whose halls echo like a grand ballroom
under my loafers. I nod to Egyptian gods,
Mesopotamian pillars,
and two marble lions before climbing
the wide staircase to the adult reading room
where I reach for the novel hidden behind the shelves.

Girl Holding an Owl,
chiseled from a single block of wood,
always stands near my front door.
After my parents’ divorce,
this three foot high guardian
became my dream image,

an owl with eyes like searchlights
whose wingspan fends off nightmares
from the woodpecker tapping each dawn
at my bedroom rotting wooden window frame,
to the drawing of a house my grandmother
asked me to make for her every so often.

When muscular dystrophy made it impossible
for you to carve wood, or cast bronze,
you sculpted with wax

I have learned that paper is my sky;
words are my dreaming.
This poem is to reaffirm
that whatever we are dealt, we will create,
transform, and offer to the world
our delicate, vulnerable shapes.

Back to Volume 13, Table of Contents

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