Tuesday, January 5, 2010

To The Waterfall

I've met few people who've vacationed to Mammoth Cave in March. Most Midwesterners head to Florida or the Texas shore for spring break, but one year our family headed to the hills, the Kentucky hills with a stop off at the state's National Park. I might have been seven or eight, I don't remember, but what I do recall was being hesitant of the smell of wet earth and the quiet of all that darkness so far below the ground. Sure, I recall the folklore and some stories of the caves discoveries, but mostly I remember a hike we took to a waterfall outside of the park.

It was gray and slightly raining. We cloaked ourselves in parkas and started heading towards the trail map. I was fumbling with my jacket and fell behind, I recall passing another family debating to hike or not. Their voices were calm, but concerned and the debate was about their young daughter and if she could handle walking over all the wet rock and slippery earth. She looked my age, my height and she too had heavy glasses. I recall listening and wanting to interrupt and tell them that they could come with us, but I didn't. I just stared. The little girl stood between her parents saying nothing. The parents decided against the hike. The girl didn't argue, she followed suit and watched as her mother helped her take her jacket off and climb back into the car.

I caught up with my family and really, I cannot tell you more details of the waterfall other than the cold wet rock layered in moss was dotted with spring flowers. While I stood with wet tennis shoes and damp socks all I thought about was that little girl, somewhere in her warm car looking out the window. I thought that if I knew her, I would send her a picture, a letter or some detail about the waterfall. I didn't want her to feel like she was missing out.

This past week, my book was rejected yet again and this time I was given comments in regards to my poems. I am beginning to think I would rather have a sterile letter simply stating the rejection in polite business English. No, not this letter for this editor found it an opportunity to be more personal and to tell me that my poetry is arbitrary. I responded in polite business English myself, but found her word choice a bit harsh.

And what does this story of the girl at the waterfall parking lot and being rejected have in common? Frankly, I write poems for that girl. I think and hope I will always write poems for her. In my mind, she's my audience or the person who maybe didn't go along with me and I want to do my best to show, explain, share and hopefully give her an opportunity to experience too.

I'd like to think that this desire doesn't come from my ego as much as it is from a belief that if you want to write than you need to have a story worth sharing, a poem with a point. Something to give to this world as an offering and not as some absolute. So here it goes, a new poem for a new year. Enjoy.

Sirens at 31o

Clara hangs blank CD’s from cherry trees,

to blind hawking magpies, while her daughters

wait for wind to turn the silver in sun

to catch seconds of rainbows without rain.

The three trees weight heavy in late summer

like Clara’s girls grown, still living under her

eye and locked screened door. A window opens

at dusk lifting hints of radio to fill the orchard

with pitched notes in the off key of dance halls,

tight jeans and slow smiles from boys under hats.

The girls sing louder than a meadow starred

with flowers. Louder than drown out owls.

As if their song were a car filled with gas

each chord a knitted feather to lift the past.


  1. so if our poetry is not arbitrary it is nothing? Impulse... whims...not restrained... not limited - - I think maybe this one that rejected your book - needs to look up the real definition - - I love your writings... so keep it flowing and find someone who knows REAL meanings to publish your book

  2. Was this rejection letter from the parents of the little girl? They sound similar to me. Thank for the trip down memory lane Emily. "If you sing a song, sing a song for them". If your write a poem, write a poem for them.