Monday, April 8, 2019

The Pink Trees of Emmitsburg

This past weekend I took part in the annual Saint Joseph College Alumnae Reunion. This was the small women's college I attended fifty years or so ago.  It's been closed since 1973, but we still meet each year.  What does that say about the bonds we made in that little college out in the country so many years ago?

Here are two poems I wrote about the place:

The Pink Trees of Emmitsburg



It is the first of all mornings.

The curtain rises,

the mountains bow,

extend pointy fingers

to a huddle of pink trees,

tulle ballerinas

in a world of black tights.

The audience,

hitherto numb and slumped,



The outlandish pink trees

shake their stiff crinolines

and the whole theater stirs.

The audience feels

loved like brides

in a world of divorces.


Too  frilly,

too old-fashioned,

the critics huffed.

The management closed the show,

closed the whole theater.


Only the caretaker

sees the pink trees dance.

They still dance,

so out of hand,

so outlandishly beautiful,

to the wind’s applause.



 This one was written 25 years after I graduated, about the Sister who was the president of the college:





Her black Irish eyes,

practical as tile,

suddenly open like onyx wells

as she snaps out of sleep.

The ragged breath

slips and then catches

on the edge of the cliff

from which she hangs,

and she’s back in the bed, saying

What day is it?

What day?


It’s the cusp of October,

humid, tropical, storming through the long afternoon.

Delirious, she’s letting old secrets

slip out around the oxygen mask.

She’s emptying the last closets


where worries of the details of graduations,

anguish of lost colleges,

irreplaceable keys

quiver in the corners.


If the moon answers to the name

Old Woman Who Never Dies,

What should I call her,

whose waning hand holds mine

as she pulls away from me

into the air of the clean cold Sunday morning?



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