Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Poems from Northampton

Climbing to the Stars

Standing on this corner, below this street sign 
on Route 5 in Easthampton, Massachusetts, 
my eyes are separated from the brilliant blanket
of stars by what looks like inches, the view broken 

only by one additional square of metal posted 
beneath the white-lettered emerald rectangle 
that reads Colonial Avenue:

Not a Thru Way.

© Em Jollie

Celebrating the Day of Mourning

Columbus Day 2008
finds me protesting but not
in the usual fashion:
I begin by reading Winona’s Recovering the Sacred
while sitting on a bench in front of an artificially constructed
waterfall, then decide I need something wilder.
I drive to Skinner State Park on Mount Holyoke,
forgetting for a moment the state-sanctioned holiday
and as my gasoline powered vehicle conquers the summit
I hear a trooper telling ten tourists
The view today is terrible.
My artist’s eyes scan the hazy horizon,
absorbing hues fit for a Fall watercolor
before coming to rest on the land nearest me.
There are 23 other cars, and I can hear
three separate cell phone conversations as I park.
Trash of all shapes and sizes is strewn
about the grounds like confetti. A sign
tells me I must leave the park
by 6 pm. The view today is terrible.
I want to walk up to the trooper & say:
it isn’t the haze that necessitates apology.
My ancestors walked these hills. This Mountain,
she always takes me back and welcomes my prayers.
She belongs only to herself. She misses her solitude
and our songs.

But I will let go of the ancestral grief, the shame, the rage.
I will hold onto the beauty
of being this much closer to the Sun.
This is my favorite genre of protest,
this making poetry of the worst.

Soon I will descend the slope,
meet Renee for dinner,
and we will play our cedar flutes
as the full Moon rises,
her beams whispering
that every minute brings us that much closer
to dawn
and the next world,
a world of light & balance.

© Em Jollie