The Tower Journal

Sally Cook

One April Day

For Ruth Guillame

The air made free with sparkling sun. The wind
Blew us to your high house above a lake,
And there you were, your sheets and garments pinned.
You dropped your clothespins straight away to take
My mother to your door, then went inside,
While I stayed in our old grey car alone.
We hadn’t come so far – a little ride,
Yet I was luggage, neutral as a stone.

And so I sat alone, all narrow limbed,
Awkward and thin, an adolescent rake,
My teeth constrained in braces, hair untrimmed,
With no words yet to speak for my own sake.
Not knowing you had noticed my red skirt,
The gypsy rose in wired teeth; the hurt.

Dead Star

So many wish to circumvent the real.
You always seemed to see the grey in it.
The smarter ones veneer those things they feel
Onto the subject. Everything you are
Was used to make a seamless bond, a bar
Against your thoughts, your wishes, and desires.
So any passing thought, or dream of love
You had of me, you seared in waning fires
Of countless backyard charcoal grills, to char
And blacken, flake and die, like some dead star.

Final Act

Air of smoke and flaming trees,
Long grass of palest ochre;
Harvest-driven yellow bees,
Late zinnias, red poker.

The richness of the summer
Comes from ancient ground that yields.
Grey mice, the flitting hummer
All in one last chorus. Fields

In a final act present
Their beautiful summation.
Closing now is imminent;
All offer their oblation.

Flowers And Rocks

You searched out every sunspot in the trees
To plant a clump of flowers in the wood;
A dahlia, tall and flaming, bloomed with ease
Mid darkened foliage, not where it should.
It stood there, glowing in a narrow shaft
Of light, while bells with neat precision rang,
Some thought you were eccentric, and we laughed;
Yet all the while, the crouching lilies sang
As rocks revealed themselves; were set aside --

Flat sturdy stones, all rounded on the edges.
New people, some years after you had died
Would find them, dated, signed, below the hedges.
Your diary in stone throughout the seasons
Affirmed your spirit there, and every heart
Knew that you placed them there for your own reasons,
Though presence was what set your heart apart.
Now we remember you, and where you are
In every stone and flower -- and each star.

Three Ways of Avoiding Reason:

Don’t importune him in his scene --
Leave him alone, and in between
Those moments that were better spent,
Be scorched by wrath, quite imminent,
Of one who longs for conversation
But squelches it with indignation.

Flowers come tumbling from the skies
In crowds of bees and butterflies,
To inundate her as she walks;
Especially when real life stalks
Her like a panther and she can’t
Escape from her ecstatic rant.
Around and round the roses whirl;
Becloud the mind of nature girl.

Not half so bright as was the star
That must have fallen on his head
The day he went and dropped the bar,
And took that vacuous girl to bed.
Now though he sings her praises high,
His hollow tune’s an empty sigh
Within his heart, because she’s not
Pure ether, and a polyglot.

Copyright © 2014 Sallly Cook
Sally CookSally Cook is both poet and painter of Magic Realist paintings. Nature and its vagaries are a constant source of inspiration for her.

Her poems and essays have appeared in Blue Unicorn, Chronicles, First Things, The Formalist Portal, Light Quarterly, National Review, Pennsylvania Review, Trinacria and other electronic and print journals.

A five-time nominee for a Pushcart award, in 2007 Cook was featured poet in The Raintown Review A recipient of several awards from the World Order of Narrative and Formalist Poets, Cook's Best American Poetry Challenge winning poem “As The Underworld Turns” was published in “Pool.” Recently Cook was one of two finalists in the 2013 Aldrich Press Poetry Book Award, judged by Marly Youmans.

Her paintings are represented in the NSDAR Museum in Washington, D.C. and the Burchfield-Penney Art Center in Buffalo, N,Y.

She has published two collections of poetry, Measured By Song and Making Music, both of which may be seen on the internet.

The Tower Journal
Spring/Summer 2014