Pamela Murray Winters


Inside the docksiders: a dark warren,
sweaty, slightly disreputable,
a haven for spiders, a lure for cats.

Now my feet are there: rough skin against rough skin,
bare, bald, wrinkled, and, lately, cold.

The walk will heal them, I think, twisting a silk scarf
against a denim collar.

The day is new, and I am still stubborn.
Pine dross packs the driveway; its perfume
rushes my nostrils in the Trojan horse of a cold breeze.
Potato sky, scars of branches,
leaves just their own skeletons in the gullies.

The gravel is louder now, and from down the road
I hear a noreaster murmur on the bay.
I am stubborn. At least it's not raining.
A demon hammers on my knee.
Each ring on each finger sucks up the chill
like a corpse kiss. Fog forms on the silver.
I succumb to pockets.
We will not talk about my face.
I am stubborn, and I am going nowhere, just the circle
that keeps the flagging body from folding.
I will walk until spring if I have to, and until snow flies
the socks sleep in the drawer.


My street, in a small town on the Western Shore of the Chesapeake, was named for one Fardinando Battee. I know very little about him except that he lived long and married twiceboth times to women of the same name.

It's rooms within rooms, deathbeds, gardens,
cradles, chapels.
I did not build it.
It will outlive me, minus the odd wall,
the floorboards pulled to fix the shifting piers,
the loss from a hurricane or dropped lantern. 

They walk in and out, women and men,
built of the same hard clay,
singing the Maryland birdcall:
R quirks the lips in a dry laugh.
T recedes to a memory.
O goes to eau.

Let us not be fussy about names.
We'll all lie together under the locusts,
where lichens erase the letters from the stone
and cats chase sparrows.

So chip off the bricks
to rebuild the kitchen.
A few black marks won't mar:
The bread will rise as sweet.

Pamela Murray Winters is a lifelong resident of the Washington, D.C., area whose poems have appeared in Gargoyle, Calvert Review, JMMW, and the anthology Takoma Park Writers 1981. A former music journalist, in summer 2007 she studied poetry with her old college instructor Rod Jellema at the Writer's Center and songwriting with poet Tom Kimmel and  her musical hero Sloan Wainwright at the Cedar Run Song Workshop. She learned to write four years before she learned to tie her shoes.



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