Green Hills Literary Lantern

Clearings

 

 

Based on a painting, “Southwick Sunset,” by Carole Day

 

Riding my brush mower, I flay thickets,

splinter briars, rip through rushes

to clear my right of way.

So much chaff churns, I see imperfectly

what red streaks the horizon,

what panicked thing tries to outrun

my cleated tracks. Must be a field mouse.

No cover. No cover. No cover.

Where will that small thing sleep tonight?

Idle thoughts. I hack on,

baring all concealments.

 

What soars?

Backlit, feathers sweep the sky, and around wings

the edges glow. Red-tailed Hawk.

That was the flash I’d sensed hovering. He plummets.

The raspy scream like a steam whistle

pierces me: sharp-edged, red tail feathers guide

talons into flesh

sharp-edged in red.

 

Red-tail starts flying with me

at eye level, gliding low slowly;

stopping in mid-air suddenly

in a flare of wings to rise

twelve feet, catch a gust,

rest thick legs on a birch, and watch

for possibilities.

 

I stop. Sunset. Ahead the clearing unrolls,

sweeps to meet mountains

and forms perspective’s chain:

Hawk and mouse and I today took the field

in nature’s long war.

My breath eases over a swath of wide furrows

I have cut open,

left unsheathed, a temporary blaze,

asserting my right of way.

 

for Gerald Radacsi

 

 

 

The Difference Between Cranes and Cranes

 

Papa barely navigated English; used no credit

            cards; forgave no debts, asked no forgiveness.

Burned by the Great Depression, winked

at easy luck, laughed at others’ losses;

Swaggered barrel-chested and stubborn; broke Mama’s plates,

            his kingly orders never finished, never refused.

 

Still, Papa, the crane operator, who understood

the lifting and moving of heavy objects,

fearlessly stretched out his own neck

            so we kids might fly free. Gently,

quietly at water’s edge, he showed us serene

            wading birds—the Great Blue heron

stalking its dinner on an elevated hind toe.

            Give him sweet rosemary,

thyme and a tub of lemons

and he’d solve the mystery of high blood pressure.

            Hand him a spade and he’d turn black dirt

 into an Eden of tomato temptations.

            Needed no manual to graft his fig trees;

memorized Aesop’s fables to inform our bedtime;

 lifted rocky beauty into mortarless walls; moved

us to tears when, a bit tipsy, he sang like Caruso—O Sole Mio.

 

 

Geri Radacsi's newest collection of poetry is Tightrope Walker, published by Antrim House this year.

Her prize-winning chapbook, Ancient Music, was published in 2000 by Pecan Grove Press; and her full-length poetry collection, Trapped in Amber, appeared in 2005 from Connecticut River Press. She has been a journalist, English teacher, communication/media specialist, and freelance writer. Currently, she is Associate Director of University Relations, Emerita, at Central Connecticut State University in New Britain.