After feast

The Feast of Words continues. Today we move into the fullness of reflection. Like a good meal, gratitude fills and slows to show us all we have — and all we could lose.

Today, poems from Rick Campbell and Ann Staley.

Rick Campbell, of Florida, is a poet, professor and the director of Anhinga Press:

Rainbow on Winding Creek

When the rain fell fat
drops splattered my head
and shirt like water ballons
falling from the sky.  At the gate
the bluest rainbow arched
over the dirt road, beginning
and end, both touched earth.
I walked over in the name
of science to discover if a man
could pass through a rainbow
and come out the man he was.
No.  When a man walks
through a rainbow he never returns.
He lives in Kansas, as if in witness
protection.  His daughter, whom he left
on the porch waits and waits. The rain
stops. The sun sets. Darkness falls
and her Dad never comes home.
She gets cards postmarked from Tulsa,
Enid, Dumas, Dalhart, just pictures
of cattle, fences, long skies and thick clouds.
No words, but in the bottom
corner a crude fleur de lis.
She knows it’s him. She wants to believe
he’ll come back, that he didn’t just
walk away in the rain. She loves him
but he’s afraid that too faded
away when the light that fell through
clouds, shekinahs for believers,
shifted a few degrees west
and the rainbow was gone.

— Rick Campbell


Ann Staley, a poet and teacher living in Oregon, reminds us that the ordinary is quickly turned extraordinary:

Giving Thanks  

We pulled out of our driveway at 2 p.m.
Taking a bottle of red and a chilled white, a baguette.
Humboldt Fog Blue and a Tumalo Farms Classico,
also a present for the hostess and a book of poetry.
We drove across the valley, about an hour to Sweet Home,
where a table was set for twenty-two plus
a couple of toddlers and a new baby named Desmond.
Folks had flown in from Chicago, Seattle and Redlands,
driven from Portland, Eugene, Corvallis,
a house full of guests, some staying for the week,
the weekend or overnight, with a fabulous breakfast
promised in the morning.  

At 5 pm I was in the living room by the fireplace
telling my friend Ted about our Italy adventure,
all the details including the Opal we’d rented
in Zurich and driven 2000 km on Eye-talian
freeways and backroads, including up over the Alps
and down into Switzerland, a hair-raising event filled
with U-turns, backing up for buses filled with nuns and tourists.

I was drinking a glass of wine when Dave motioned me into
the kitchen and then to the bathroom just beyond
where Courtney was throwing up into the toilet,
had shed his wet trousers and boxers
and was stretched-out on the bathroom floor, a pillow under his head.
In his overnight case I found dry jeans, and then
we waited for the EMTs.  

When they arrived his blood pressure was 36/50.
A few minutes later it had improved to 50/80,
and while the EMT’s pressed about 12 little heart monitors
onto his chest, I began to wonder if I was going
to be phoning his mother and sister and brothers,
planning — you know — a funeral. Still, by the time the EMT’s had finished,
Courtney’s heart was beating at something akin to normal,
and he could take a few steps down the stairs
& lie down on the stretcher that went into the ambulance.  

Two friends, Lisa and Lili, accompanied me as
we followed that ambulance about 15 miles to the nearest
Emergency Room where we ate some turkey and dressing
and pearl onions and waited for the E-Room’s
Doctor Rose to appear on the scene.
After our holiday dinner, I went back to wait with CC.
He was lucid, smiling, and I chided him:
If you ever wet your pants in public again, I will have to divorce you.
We laughed. And began to think like normal people again.
No funeral. Just a ride home after the other tests and bloodwork.
I returned to the dinner, having missed all of it, to cheers
of happiness and thanks-giving. Courtney would live
to taste another turkey and to celebrate next time.  

Now we’re back home. Champagne and candle light.
With plans for breakfast and a walk along the Willamette,
gray and fulsome, trees dropping leaves,
snow expected on the mountain passes.
Whatever “Black Friday” is about, I could care less.
It was a dark Thursday night, and tomorrow
the sun will rise whether we see it or not. 

— Ann Staley
Thanksgiving 2011