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Spring/Summer 2008, Volume 24.3


Marjorie RobertsPhoto of Marjorie Roberts.

Marjorie Roberts (Ph.D, The Catholic University of America) is a psychotherapist who specializes in cancer and AIDS patients and women in domestic violence. Her work has received honorable mention in the Montalvo Poetry Competition in Saratoga, California, and won the prize-winning poem in
Cape Rock, 2002. Her work has appeared in Caduceus, Confluence, Meridian Anthology of Contemporary Poetry, Nimrod, Pacific Review, Plainsong, Poem, Redwheelbarrow, Whetstone, and others.


Reconsider the Impertinence of Cicadas

On a path
   of ancient gulls with broken wings
   he pauses now and then,
Pear blossoms precarious on his brow
   anchor morning in white,
Inscribes verse on leaf or fan
   whatever his eyes lay bare,
Cranes sculpting waterfalls,
   fog sweetening the chestnuts,
A plum crushed underfoot someone
   may heed years hence, wonder why
It was left to rot, the fruit of the stain
   cherished by the tree that bore it.

Reconsider the impertinence of cicadas whose lament
   depends on doggedness, the transparency of wings,
   details of music we might miss,
Trace the skylark with topographical-eyes stretching
   the boundaries of mountains,
A change of mood eavesdropping on
   the plaintive river-song,
And what of the fishing village swallowed by tidal-waves,
   the sea still there, heavy, preserved
Like an abandoned cup of green tea.

Beauty and pain our inherited companions on the path,
   birthmarks like freckles, cold flesh,
Co-exist with us, gather in the meditation fields
   where the language of exile is spoken,
Nothing is clear, only silhouettes of grass, wind,

I walk 20 minutes west to the ocean,
   look for something unusual, perhaps
An exotic flower poking through the sidewalk,
   or some odd sculpture covered in ivy,

How did I overlook the quiet familiarity
   on my own street?
A claret-shadow in my neighbor’s yard,
   the forsythia bush tilted on its belly
Ablaze in summers-end dusk,
   the flutter of sparrow, ripple of leaf.

The Maple

The maple
prism of blood-splatter moons
mahogany wine-song
leaves of Handel-gold

to a new born
tossed in a dumpster
where a warm blanket
should be
silenced berceuse
3 AM

The maple
convulses in crimson
ceaseless melancholy
the abandonment of an infant
is the abandonment of our souls

We inhale
the clotted air
of personal assault
dumbstruck by
cold indignity
in an alley

My voice
crescendos with
other mothers
mercy to
human frailty

No infant cries
beyond the galling
taste of starvation
neither the snow-cricket
nor lotus blossom

If the sap
of the maple
had been warm milk…

Autumn quickening
in purgatory season
tight-fisted flecks
of blue-dust flesh
life-shaping char

The metamorphosis
plum-lacquered veins
of resurrection

Behold the maple
hymn to all the sorrows
of the world


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