Two Poems by Donna Hilbert

On my Sunday Morning Walk, I Think of Wallace Stevens

Palm tree frond and heron wing are one,
or so it seems to me from where I stand.
Palm tree temple, heron priest,
and I, a congregant, alone.

*

Mallards Fly In

Soon they will nest.
Later, hatchlings will be stranded
trying to cross the street.
Not everything is solved by walking.

*

Donna Hilbert’s latest book is Gravity: New & Selected Poems, Tebot Bach, 2018. Her new collection, Threnody, is forthcoming from Moon Tide Press. She is a monthly contributing writer to the on-line journal Verse-Virtual. Work has appeared in The Los Angeles Times, Braided Way, Chiron Review, Sheila-Na-Gig, Rattle, Zocalo Public Square, One Art, and numerous anthologies. She writes and leads private workshops in Southern California, where she makes her home. Learn more at www.donnahilbert.com

Two Poems by Donna Hilbert

Perspicere

I’ve come to love the power lines
crisscrossing the alley behind my house.

Birds pause here, between their quests
for food and water, to rest

until returning to nest in palm trees
across the alley, down the block,

across the street, and to places
that, no matter how I fix my gaze,

I can’t quite know, I can’t quite find.

*

Dear Laurie,

To identify the bird singing from the powerlines,
I pull Birds of America from its spot atop the bookshelf.
Remember, friend, when you gave this book to me? Before
your move to Texas? Or, was it after the returning
to California? Your grandmother’s book
you said, who also loved to name the birds.

How I grieved when you moved half-way across
the country with your family, for your husband’s
better job. I boarded the plane with the baby,
barely three-months old, while you wrangled
the other children up the ramp.
It was December. Remember how we cried?

The new year began and with it, grief began in earnest.
Jobs soured. Friends divorced. In May, my father died.
When school was out, to staunch my tears,
Larry loaded our boys into the car (which car? I don’t remember)
and we crossed the desert states.
Craters, canyons, caverns, kitsch motels, the kids counting
dead critters on the highway all the way to Texas.

Hellish hot, the Texas summer, but Laurie,
you and I were glad to sit in misery together.
We passed the baby back and forth, refilled our icy drinks.
The children, keeping cool, wielded water guns and hoses.
The husbands talked sports, flipped burgers on the grill. It was June.
Did we celebrate our birthdays, one day apart, together?

I don’t remember the birds in Texas, but mosquitos and chiggers
ruled the grass. Cicadas swarmed the backyard trees,
a visitation we’d not expected with its symphony of sizzle
and buzz as if a world were ending or beginning.
We could not have guessed which guests
would call upon us next. Some callers it’s best not to expect.

*

Donna Hilbert’s latest book is Gravity: New & Selected Poems, Tebot Bach, 2018. Her new collection, Threnody, is forthcoming from Moon Tide Press. She is a monthly contributing writer to the on-line journal Verse-Virtual. Work has appeared in The Los Angeles Times, Braided Way, Chiron Review, Sheila-Na-Gig, Rattle, Zocalo Public Square, One Art, and numerous anthologies. She writes and leads private workshops in Southern California, where she makes her home. Learn more at www.donnahilbert.com

For Mother, Whose Maiden Name Was German by Donna Hilbert

For Mother, Whose Maiden Name Was German

From this porch swing,
I look into the woods
beyond the highway,
and dream of you, Mother,

who didn’t like the woods,
but loved a porch swing,
who liked horizons clean:
ocean beyond a bank
of sand, a backroad arrow
through billowing
seas of wheat.

You didn’t like the woods,
but loved a porch swing.
O cradle of memory.
Your name, Zumwalt:
into the woods.

You didn’t like the woods,
uneasy when the way
could not be seen.
How did you enter then
the pitchblack woods
unafraid, serene?

*

Donna Hilbert’s latest book is Gravity: New & Selected Poems, Tebot Bach, 2018. Her new collection, Threnody, is forthcoming from Moon Tide Press. She is a monthly contributing writer to the on-line journal Verse-Virtual. Work has appeared in The Los Angeles Times, Braided Way, Chiron Review, Sheila-Na-Gig, Rattle, Zocalo Public Square, One Art, and numerous anthologies. She writes and leads private workshops in Southern California, where she makes her home. Learn more at www.donnahilbert.com

Two Poems by Donna Hilbert

Rosemary

You are the rosemary I add to the soup:
how you pressed pungent bristles
between thumb and finger,
how you lay sprigs atop red potatoes
glistening in olive oil, salt,
house alive with the fragrance
of vegetables roasting
on any given day of the week.

1,095 days past your death, young one,
I sometimes escape the earthquake
of absence upon awakening,
but daily remembrance, I never escape:
today, it was rosemary, yesterday,
blue sea glass washed up at my feet.

*

dent de lion

Don’t call me weed,
but love instead my golden
head dressing swards of green.

The sunshine of my flowering gone,
then love me in my second crown
of silver tuft and drifting thread.

*

Donna Hilbert’s latest book is Gravity: New & Selected Poems, Tebot Bach 2018. Other books include Transforming Matter, and Traveler in Paradise, both from PEARL Editions. Her new collection, Threnody, is forthcoming from Moon Tide Press in late 2021.

February, 2021 — by Donna Hilbert

February, 2021

In a fit of hope, I wash and press white shirts
hidden in the hamper since last March.
I order lipstick, and a see-through make-up bag
with hooks to hang on any random perch.

*

Donna Hilbert’s latest book is Gravity: New & Selected Poems, Tebot Bach, 2018. She is a monthly contributing writer to the on-line journal, Verse-Virtual. She is eager to resume leading in-person workshops and hugging her friends. Learn more at http://www.donnahilbert.com