Lynda Self

BUCKEYE LUCK           


Mid-September, long before the leaves turn,

the buckeyes start to fall. They skitter across the ground,

their green husks splitting open, spilling out nuggets

sleek as polished wood.


Down the mountain beside the mailboxes, hapless buckeyes,

lie squashed in the road.  Others fall, as luck would have it,

on the roadside or tumble down the bank toward the creek.

Each day, I scuff through leaf litter

looking for ones whose shells are still intact.

Convinced that luck belongs to finders, I disregard

the mud slick beneath my shoes, rocks slippery with moss.

On good days, I arrive home, pockets teeming with luck.


I keep them in a basket by the window,

their blank eyes gazing nowhere as the luck

seeps elusively through the finely woven willow.




After I have swept the porch, I walk from shrub to shrub

knocking snow from their leaves with the broom.

My nose has started to run, and bits of ice have fallen

into my unlaced boots.  I make my way down the driveway

to the rhododendrons there whose leaves are curled like thin green cigars. 


I think of earlier snows, when I lay on the lawn making

angel wings with a tingling of champagne in my nose, when I

sat with my lover on a park bench kissing in the afternoon sun.

These are the acts of my past, when indifference flooded

my veins like the cold dye of a myelogram.


Now I would be cautious, upright, fearful of unsought eyes leering

at my indiscretions.  Knotting my scarf around my neck, I use

the broom handle to slewfoot my way up the drive.  I shed my boots

at the door, eager to be rid of socks soggy from the melted ice,

of memories of earlier snows undiminished by the cold.



Since your father's death, you've turned squeamish,

refusing even to pick a site for the dogs' ashes.

So the sprinkling fell to me.

Malone, coarse, grainy, like pulverized gravel.

The others, paler, powdery, more like flour.

Afterwards, the feel of ashes lingering on my fingers.


Now, weeks later, the ashes around the cinnamon rose

have settled, leaving specks of graying white

coloring the soil.  As I kneel amidst them, auguring holes

for tulip bulbs, I feel once more the texture of ashes on my hands.


You always keep your deaths remote, too distant

for the fondness of recall.  Like your grandfather's pick

leaning idly against the garage wall.  You'll lift its worn handle

and heave its point into the soil, what remains of his life

long subsumed into the texture of your own.

I set aside the drill with its spiraling bit and insert the bulbs,

careful to nestle the stubby roots into the dirt. Come spring,

their shoots will plow upwards through the dirt

with waxen blooms that hold against the wind.  

So too I distance myself, the lingering feel of ashes

slipping from my hands like shards of grief.


Lynda Self’s poems have appeared (some under the name "Lynda Yates") in Threepenny Review, Southern Review, Southern Humanities Review, Southern Poetry Review, New England Review, Georgia Review, and Confrontation and in the Yearbook of American Poetry (1981, 1984, 1985).  A number of poems also appeared in a regional anthology entitled The Poet’s Domain (volumes two, seven, and nine).



Current Issue
Contributors' Notes

Email this poem Printer friendly page

A CLOSER LOOK: Alice Friman

Elvira Bennet

Kristin Berkey-Abbott

Cliff Bernier

Nancy Naomi Carlson

Michael C. Davis

Brent Fisk

Martin Galvin

Taylor Graham

John Grey

Clarinda Harriss

Nellie Hill

David Hornibrook

Jacqueline Jules

Rose Kelleher

Robert S. King

Ann Knox

Judy Kronenfeld

Lyn Lifshin

Diane Lockward

Donal Mahoney

Laura Manuelidis

Nancy Fitz-Hugh Meneely

Julie L. Moore

Judith S. Offer

Roger Pfingston

Oliver Rice

Lynda Self

Ellen Steinbaum

Karen J. Weyant

Edwin Zimmerman














Last Updated: Mar 10, 2021 - 2:35:35 PM

Copyright 2005 - 2021 Cook Communication.