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Site design: Skeleton

Sample Poems by Margaret Rozga


The Plot

Scatter seeds freely
on newly-awakened soil.

Some won't take root. Some will
feed nuthatches and sparrows.
Some will be pulled, mistaken for weeds,
some arrested in a sudden late freeze

or washed away by flood
or starved in drought:
always some chance slip or stop.

All you need is enough green
through the mud of spring

to feel as if
you won't go into the cold
without anything at all.


Eden

I know what it's like.

One year Dad grafted branches from five
different apple varieties onto a single trunk.
The next spring he set his camera
for time-lapsed photos. Blossoms in motion.

In a succession of summers, peach seedlings
from stones Mom buried sprouted, thrived, defied
the cut of Mr. Stanisch's lawn mower and
set forth fruit we carried to all the neighbors.

I long for a garden abundant as Mom's,
perfect as Dad's. Imagine my own tiny plot
with more than perennial chives and hearty mint.

I add pepper plants, hot and sweet,
ask myself how much room can parsley take?
What about piney rosemary?
Surely space still for a single
heirloom tomato seedling.

Among the plants I set an antiqued marker-
HERBS.
For mother's day, my children give me two more-
JUSTICE FREEDOM

Before anything blossoms, before
it even blushes, before green springs
tall, plumps up, out, full beyond promise

I dream - no, I taste - perfect fruit.


Alabama Bound

Here's the map abstracted from history:
Tuskegee, Montgomery, Anniston, Birmingham,
Selma, Dallas County, Lowndes County, and again
Montgomery. This time some make it back.

Sit-ins. Bus boycotts. University doorways.
Interstate buses. City jail, county jail.
Bull, his dogs, fire hoses. Jim Clark,
his horses. Deaths, more deaths.

The Edmund Pettus Bridge. Oh,
Wallace, you never can jail us all,
oh, Wallace, segregation's bound to fall.

Days of chopping and picking, days begun
with the sun and ended with mass meetings
in tin-roofed churches, never mind the rain,
never mind unnatural threats.

Names whispered to history, almost lost:
McNair, Collins, Wesley, Robertson.
Chaney, Schwerner, Goodman.
Jackson, Reeb, Daniels, Liuzzo.

Some of us survive.

This map we follow fits words to the terrain
much as one intertwines personal history
with snatches of headlines and refrains of songs,
much the way land becomes place, home, the past,

an herb garden, a psalm. Churches rebuild
red-brick, and tin is sent for recycling.
Museums open and historical markers go up.
Birmingham and Montgomery begin to look
unbound, try for years to keep the news at bay.


Promises
After viewing Nancy Charak's painting "Roots"

Sun edging up at the far side of the lake
The glint of red-gold on the first summer fruit

Wheat as it bends ready for harvest
Basil gathered for its fragrant bouquet

The way my new son-in-law warms to a joke
Coffee, steaming, and sweetened with cream

Separate strands gathered for weaving
The eye thirsty for color, the poet on the verge of a word
The painter's fine grasp of the brush

All the hungry, the newlyweds, the artists waiting


Rather Than Cry

I cleared the weedy yard
our first year there.
Then we cultivated
beans, peppers, tomatoes,
a good harvest, fresh herbs,
and a new son.

Not two years later
rain late into May delays
plowing, transplanting.
Weeds reseed. Yet we
believe fall promises until

you feel, you say, under the weather.
Not good, the doctor says.
It spreads like a weed.
"Like a weed," I hear.
The idea takes root.
I upend the earth
as if the other could be rooted out.
Then even our son seeks
gnarled white roots of thistle,
branches of a ghostly tree, underground.

I dig deeper and deeper,
working the earth with a fury
she doesn't deserve
and leave the ground
open, like a grave.