oranje - recent posts from my current home

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Mean Stream

Okay, so I've been busy with a lot of things lately. One of them is a book of poetry. The following is excerpted from the prologue. I plan to have this project complete by the end of August. It's been interesting working on this. Sometimes, I feel like all my words are going into this project, with very little left over for anything else.


Sometimes, when she came home late
Mary would throw onions into a pan of hot grease
Sauté them to sizzling translucence
John would come home on her heels
Savory scent permeating the small house

Afternoons spent with her sister-in law
Drinking cold beer in smoky pubs
While the children were at school
John working day shift at the mill

None the wiser

Standing on the stoop, a whistle pierces the air
John calling the children for supper
Down the stairs they tumbled to the kitchen
Spirits high, faces flushed from exertion
Clambering, jostling around the table,

Always, there were more than he could lay claim to
Squabbling at the table each late afternoon
Justice for all infractions was swift
It was John's home, John's rules

Mary's children

Children blew around Mary's knees
Laughter and rage swirling in the air
Belling from the throats of the youngest three
No more than two years apart in age
Ascending from a boy and two girls

Two older boys teetered on the edge of manhood
Able to assume awesome responsibility
John was the one they minded
Paying her no more attention than a gnat

Two stepdaughters

John's first wife left this world early
Their two daughters set adrift by the loss
Working at the mill filled John's days
Coming home to a foreign world of girls
So he searched for someone to ease the burden

There was Mary, plain and strong
Though old for a bride, a willing back
Good enough, to John's thinking
Raise his girls as proper wives

Heartburn, heart burst

John complained about pains in his chest
He even went to a doctor, a drastic step
Thinking that John was strong and young
The doctor gave him something to settle his heartburn
Admonishing him to stay clear of onions

One night the pain seared across his chest
Intense light scrabbled behind his eyelids
Grey and shaking, sweat drenching his hair
His arm a numb and useless weight

Newly widowed

Eighteen years John and Mary spent together
Long enough for contentment, to short for security
John died at the age of fifty three
Survived by his wife and seven children
Only one had passed before him

John's girls were married by the time
His heart had pounded through his chest
The boys were lost to Mary, wild and dangerous
Leaving her with the three youngest children


Merge Divide said...

This is a beautifully sad poem, sus.

Susan Constanse said...

Hi David,
This is only half of the poem.

Lisa Hunter said...

Where can we read more, Susan?

Susan Constanse said...

Hi Lisa,
The writing of this book was funded by the Ludwig Vogelstein Foundation; I am forever in their debt. My next step is to seek assistance in publishing the book.

I didn't feel right posting an unpublished poem in my blog. I'll let you know about future developments.