From the archives – We found an unexploded mine that day by Deirdre Parkes

We found an unexploded mine that day

We found an unexploded mine that day
and stared so much we let the ocean creep
to wet our feet before we ran away.

How would it be if courage let us stay
inside that story that wasn’t ours to keep?
We found an unexploded mine that day.

There was no one there to warn us, to say
how cold the water was, how deep.
We wet our feet before we ran away.

That debt of blood wasn’t ours to pay.
We should have been at home in bed, asleep.
We found an unexploded mine that day.

Older feet than ours were left in clay
like fossil footsteps, frozen in mid leap.
We wet our feet before we ran away.

The summer sky turned suddenly to grey.
The country lanes turned desolate and steep.
We found an unexploded mine that day
and wet our feet before we ran away.

from Autumn Sky Poetry DAILY, April 28, 2017 — by Deirdre Parkes

photo by Christine Klocek-Lim

A Child Stolen by Deirdre Parkes

A Child Stolen

Calloused and rough,
your hand gently caresses my hair,
a rambling story of your youth
often heard before.

Automatically
my mouth forms the response
as you tell a new story
a story of manhood unfolding.

The curtains smell of stale drink
they block out the light, and my innocence.
Cigarette burns on the covered floor
I know that story too.

The sudden heat of skin unfolded
the mouth that gently speaks
the hand that tells its own story.
Eyes turned away in disbelief

this story has a different ending.
No sleeping beauty wakened with a kiss,
just the terrible knowledge
of your Guinness tainted breath.

by Deirdre Parkes

Editor’s Note: The broken punctuation of this poem forces the reader to revisit these lines more than once, and it is through this rereading that one discovers the trauma that lies at the ending of the story.

We found an unexploded mine that day by Deirdre Parkes

We found an unexploded mine that day

We found an unexploded mine that day
and stared so much we let the ocean creep
to wet our feet before we ran away.

How would it be if courage let us stay
inside that story that wasn’t ours to keep?
We found an unexploded mine that day.

There was no one there to warn us, to say
how cold the water was, how deep.
We wet our feet before we ran away.

That debt of blood wasn’t ours to pay.
We should have been at home in bed, asleep.
We found an unexploded mine that day.

Older feet than ours were left in clay
like fossil footsteps, frozen in mid leap.
We wet our feet before we ran away.

The summer sky turned suddenly to grey.
The country lanes turned desolate and steep.
We found an unexploded mine that day
and wet our feet before we ran away.

by Deirdre Parkes

Editor’s Note: This villanelle uses repetition to chilling effect—the unexploded mine feels as if it is about to explode, or has already exploded (emotionally).

Looking for Clues by Deirdre Parkes

Looking for Clues

Powder-tangled smell of her handbag,
clothes kept for best in a wardrobe
that spills its plunder over the bed.
Morning starts always with the rise of Granny
talking about where to find the hidden eggs.
A lifetime of clues that fuel her evening’s crossword.

We laugh and squabble and never hear a cross word
but search again for treasures in the handbag.
While we, the proof of all her roosting eggs,
See mysterious garments nightly adorn the wardrobe
in a ritual that stuns to silence – modest Granny
removes one outside layer before bed.

Her body leaves a morning-hollowed bed,
newsprint face that lay upon the crossword.
We rise through dreams to see the dawn of Granny;
perched on her nose the glasses from her handbag,
as she searches among the treasures of the wardrobe,
then starts the hiss of gas for boiling eggs.

Two verses of a song would time the eggs,
while we crept out from nests of unmade bed.
Moving past the shelf inside the wardrobe,
(now lined with yellowing sheets of unsolved crossword)
that once had held a pink and plastic handbag,
given to my sister once, from Granny.

Summer days were always spent with Granny,
Hours of gathering hay and finding eggs
my aunt scrabbling for cigarettes in her handbag;
calling for baths and sending us all to bed.
Laughing mostly, but sometimes with a cross word,
she takes her weekly inventory of the wardrobe.

My coaxing aunt says, time to tidy that wardrobe.
But this has all been heard before by Granny.
She writes the first few answers in her crossword
before handing over a box of new-lain eggs.
It’s ready, my aunt says, to tip and fall onto the bed,
the rustle as money is tucked away in Granny’s handbag.

At night the handbag sits by the bed, fleshed-out
by money from the eggs, while Granny’s outside layer
lives in the wardrobe, and the crossword lies across her legs.

by Deirdre Parkes

Guest Editor’s Note: The sestina form gives perfect shape to this evocative poem, expressing both the reassuring changelessness of simple routines and the inexorable changes that come with the passage of time.

Please welcome Guest Editor Catherine Rogers from April 3-7, 2017.