Author: Adele Gardner

Still dawn. She perches, angled in the chair–

Chin sharp in sleep, joints stark through soft-worn clothes,

Her eyelids tense, ridged even in repose,

One brittle wrist protruding through her hair.

My shadow bars her. I would block that care

That crumples, wrests her limbs in broken pose:

Her body, hated, dies. Her longing grows,

Till soul drifts out through eyes thinned with despair.

 

I’ve guarded her a week. She doesn’t move.

My shadow’s stiff with watching. She first came

For breath; now breathing lengthens, rasps, in sleep.

What secret touch from me might wake her, prove

There’s substance still in wanting, that her name

Is life’s pure thread, spun by her soul to keep?

 

*Previously published in Kaleidoscope, 1998-99.

 

Contributor Notes: Adele Gardner’s first poetry collection, Dreaming of Days in Astophel, is available from Sam’s Dot Publishing (http://sdpbookstore.com/poetrybooks.htm, keyword search “Gardner” or “Astophel” to go right to it). She has had poems appear in American Arts QuarterlyThe Cape RockBibliophilosThe City PrimevalBellowing ArkZ MiscellaneousStatus Hat, and more. Much of this occurred under her previous byline, Lyn C. A. Gardner. You can find out more about Adele by visiting her website, www.gardnercastle.com.

I’d had nightmares, but I wasn’t ready. Just last week he loved me so intensely, his eyes memorizing my face, the curve where hip joins body, my clumsy human limbs. Now his kindness made the pit yawn wider. He kept telling me it wasn’t my fault. Everything about me was perfect—he hoped I’d find some man who’d treat me with the love and respect I deserved.

I wanted no one but him, with his quirky smile, that slight lisp when he got excited, the circle of his arms as he read me his poetry. That day when I flung myself at the water, trying to get back, he’d fought the waves to carry me to shore. I couldn’t breathe. His boyish face looked anxious as he begged me not to leave him.

I felt as though my legs had been cut off at the roots. I couldn’t eat. I spent hours in front of his picture, lighting candles. Crying so hard the candles died and I felt that burning again, as though my lungs were being consumed, air’s fire.

I spent a lot of time thinking about the sea. My life, my poison. The green-lit world that held my death. Exhausted, I answered each time love called me from his new love’s house, for the stale substitute of his tears.

Long ago, my father’s face had streamed as he blocked the door, his voice breaking as he begged me to stay. I’d swum past him without a word, thinking to find love. Now I wade knee deep in ocean, the waves black beneath the moon. The undertow pulls me with the strength of the love I’ve lost. Desperate to return, I hear only my father’s curse, thrown back to me in the breakers, for leaving him.

 

*Previously published in Full Unit Hookup: A Magazine of Exceptional Literature, Issue 9, Spring 2008.

 

Contributor Notes: Adele Gardner’s first poetry collection, Dreaming of Days in Astophel, is available from Sam’s Dot Publishing (http://sdpbookstore.com/poetrybooks.htm, keyword search “Gardner” or “Astophel” to go right to it). She has had poems appear in American Arts Quarterly, The Cape Rock, Bibliophilos, The City Primeval, Bellowing Ark, Z Miscellaneous, Status Hat, and more. Much of this occurred under her previous byline, Lyn C. A. Gardner. You can find out more about Adele by visiting her website, www.gardnercastle.com.

Their boughs bend low beneath her crushing hand.

(Obeisance cannot sway a grieving god.)

The living trees are helpless where they stand,

Awake and murdered by the same command.

Her scream strips leaves, breaks mountains—mad maraud

That strips the motherland to barren sod

As stark as where I shiver. Deodand

For daughter’s death, when wrought by mother’s plan,

Remits the hand of life to House of Death—

Where I am queen, paid in my mother’s breath.

I watch, below, though soil chokes my eyes:

Demeter dooms the world for my demise–

She matched us–thought as son, Death could be bent–

But I am heir to Mother’s grave intent.

 

*Previously published in Sonnet Writers, Vol. 1, 2006.

 

Contributor Notes: Adele Gardner’s first poetry collection, Dreaming of Days in Astophel, is available from Sam’s Dot Publishing (http://sdpbookstore.com/poetrybooks.htm, keyword search “Gardner” or “Astophel” to go right to it). She has had poems appear in American Arts QuarterlyThe Cape RockBibliophilosThe City PrimevalBellowing ArkZ MiscellaneousStatus Hat, and more. Much of this occurred under her previous byline, Lyn C. A. Gardner. You can find out more about Adele by visiting her website, www.gardnercastle.com.