The Innisfree Poetry Journal
by Rosemary Winslow
Last Lines from Her Tao
A cento in memory of Ann B. Knox
With spruce standing dark against empty blue,
a declaration of life, a shrill cry: Swallow, sun-dog, kitchen table,
and was held by an unbroken whole.
And later play a family game of "Who Am I?"
And sudden silence opens all around you.
And drop the broken bits into the compost crock,
compelling drift toward nothing,
drawing clear and gleaming, toward the sea
that opens for us to fill
loneliness that takes silence to hear
a jay, the click of a knife cutting beans
of the whole fabric, the dinner, the company, myself.
And let my body follow and my will do nothing
with its ordinary chill and mist rising from the tarmac,
crossed, satisfied that he has changed the world,
was known for his work with high desert flora.
Against the edgeless threat of an uncharted road
was a brick wall. But behind that, what?
The slant of gold light. This thing you can know
but what it means I do not know.
This is the given world—
draws off singing words of gratitude, of praise,
or returned to lie waiting in the earth.
Sun warms my back, the river slides on.
(Last lines taken, in order, from
First Lines from Her Tao
A cento in memory of Ann B. Knox
As a girl I'd lie in the meadow doing nothing,
Say mountain, and a valley, its stalwart essence
goes unnoticed, a faint wash separates earth from sky.
Easy enough when the task is laundry.
The clean line of a garden spade satisfies,
Yes, yes, I know, a single drop of rain.
I didn't forget. I chose.
I'm tired of half-knowing what I know:
A potter centers on her wheel.
At dinner last night, Charlie spoke of a woman,
you're in the kitchen slicing beans, the dogs—
an awkward move and my crystal goblet overturns.
You mean can I watch the neighbor's dog piss/ on the tulips?
For three years my neighbor nursed a grumpy husband . . . .
The boy sets a row of rocks across
my college friend, the philosophy major.
Book of the Way, the title translates.
We can't know when easy is.
It's a skill, a craft, and takes,
If you look for beauty. When Aunt Kate died,
her recipe, knowing was sudden:
some order is already in place—gravity.
We dropped her ashes from the bridge, and they sifted—
I'd heard of it, of course, but had never entered.
A Ghazal, in memory of Ann B. Knox, poet & friend
If I descend to sing you back, your refrain at eighty, Follow the Way,
turns me back. Gentle strength, I looked up to you. So, I refrain, follow the
you exited, reading your poems, your best joy, strains of uplifted you,
the boat your smile was to carry your friends out of pain. It was a way
you learned living in Moscow through the Cold War, Stalin's reign, not the life
you desired. You met terror with grace, the best strength gained, you could
listen the way
love allows. You gave us poems that said compassion with humor is the sane
Heart—yours—wrote, a "quick kiss on a child's brown hair," and brain can't
fathom the way
a "sly smile" kept secret a special ingredient for rhubarb fool. Some maintain
love lasts, and my guess is heart's laughter gains heaven. It lightens the way.
Like heaven's feast, Shakespeare's model for happy endings, your table had
simple flowers, a union of fresh bread and red wine flowing through our time
there the way
the Picasso sketch of Woman's hips—curved in ink stains, black on white, in
the wall behind
your table—curved through all time. After we ate, we sat circled in the midst
of your paintings, the way
life circles. We are born in pain, we go round and round, we pass out again.
loves, joys, drop like mercies. They bud, they open, ripen, fall, some hard, the
your lovely roses fell—your young child, a husband, your own life—down
again, as every thing
does. You knew it, you looked to it near the end, writing Reading the Way
at Eighty. Wise with restraint your poems, you, refrained from the bite. You
a promise of innocence even after the seine of experience kept you from there.
You'd learned The Way,
the Ancients spoke of, Ann: Accept this too. Nothing lasts. All things flow.
sang through life's knocks. I hear your singing now. Listen, Love, See, Follow
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