John Grey: “Maud”

 

 

MAUD

The parlor
stands for all of life,
even for those things that most resemble death,
because Maud occupies her favorite chair,
knitting a sweater for no one to wear,
out of the necessity to busy the hands,
relieve the mind of its terrible duties,
retell her story in stitch after stitch
so the end result is something warm and lovely.

A crucifix on the wall,
a husband behind glass,
bestow in silver-plate and photograph
the blessings that remain to her,
from her thick mop of white hair,
to wrinkled but active fingers,
all the way down to
the knitting needles,
the basket of wool skeins.

Jesus is nailed and hurting.
The man in uniform 
is off to war, off to heaven.
She joins them in pain
with a bend to her spine,
a much-broken heart.

But there’s still this 
sheer blood-red dreaminess
to her shapeless eyes
And her breath is like a breeze
continually rousing her aged loveliness.
Yes, it’s more of a winter wind these days.
But the chill can never settle.
And she cannot quite settle on the chill.

 

About the Author: John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in That, Dunes Review, Poetry East and North Dakota Quarterly with work upcoming in Haight-Ashbury Literary Journal, Thin Air, Dalhousie Review and Failbetter.

 

More By John Grey: 

Move On

Downsizing

 

Photo Credit:  Gertrude Käsebier “Grandmother Käsebier with Knitting” (1895) Digital image courtesy of the Getty’s Open Content Program.

John Grey: “Downsizing”

 

 

DOWNSIZING

So little of this furniture
has any meaning beside comfort.
It can be donated,
along with the clothes 
we haven’t worn in years.

And do we really need 
all these documents.
There’s such a thing
as the statute of limitations.
That rule gets all excited 
when it spies an attic.

So tax returns from twenty years ago
can feed the shredder.
Along with report cards,
job reviews, receipts for items
long since sent to the dumpster.

Even the photographs can be thinned.
Too bad the ones posing
can’t be thinned also.
And there’s so many letters.
So many postcards.
It’s like sending memory’s work offshore.

We’re stuck with the family heirlooms
like we’re stuck with the family.
But ceramic dogs, crystal angels,
can’t even get nostalgia right.
I say green-bag them.

We’re moving into a condo.
Much fewer inanimate objects.
We’ll have to fill their roles.

 

About the Author: John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in That, Dunes Review, Poetry East and North Dakota Quarterly with work upcoming in Haight-Ashbury Literary Journal, Thin Air, Dalhousie Review and failbetter.

 

More By John Grey:

Move On

 

Photo Credit:  OCULUS WINDOW, ROUND-ARCHED HALF-WINDOW, ROUND-ARCHED CASEMENT WINDOW, AND LOW, ROUND-ARCHED DOOR, THIRD FLOOR, TOWER – Rose Hill, Woods Road, Tivoli, Dutchess County, NY Library of Congress

 

“Move On” By John Grey

 

 

MOVE ON

The day of moving approaches.
We’ve already started packing
and what doesn’t go into boxes
ends up in the head’s storage space –
the wallpaper, the radiators, the hardwood floors,
the backyard maple, the birds’ nests,
even the neighborhood itself.

Soon enough, everything
we see outside the window will be new.
Every block we walk
will be up to its treetops and chimney flues
in novelty.

We’ll struggle to hold onto
the ones we once knew
even as others
do their best
to shove them aside,
take their places.

Before true assimilation,
we’ll be some of what we were,
some of what we’re to become.

We’ve done this before.
We’ll do this again.
We’re transient by nature.
People and things,
places and scenery –
at any one time,
only so many truly fit.

But. at least, we have each other.
That is, until we don’t.

 

About the Author: John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in
That, Muse, Poetry East and North Dakota Quarterly with work upcoming
in South Florida Poetry Journal, Hawaii Review and the Dunes Review.

 

Image Credit: Arthur Rothstein “Unpacking new furniture at Fairfield Bench Farms, Montana” (1939) The Library of Congress