Five Poems by Laura Foley

Then

The human world
kicks you in the head
again and again—

so you must seek beyond the No,
the song of dried beech leaves
ringing in the brittle wind,

a hollow tone to shiver you
like a tuning fork,
so the healing bell inside yourself

will resound, in quietness,
with Yes
and Yes and Yes.

* 

Full Tide

We walked downhill
to the beach, her hand in mine,
small step, after small step.
She said Hi to the doggie on the leash,
Hi Mommy, to a woman passing
on the street, Hi Daddy, to a bearded man.
On the sand, she stared transfixed,
at the water, the slight waves,
the tide not yet pulling out.
She looked up, toward a flap of wings.
Bird, I said, pointing at the seagull,
and she mimicked, Bird,
then turned her gaze back,
to the waves’ slow slapping.
Later I sat, looking at trees below me,
a hint of haze burning off the far bay,
the world busy working and sailing,
waking, while I sat waiting as Evie napped,
that quiet Maine morning,
the full tide of grandmotherhood,
lapping my shore.

*
Breakfast Conversation

I’ve placed her favorites—
fresh raspberries, string cheese,
a glass of milk in the giraffe cup—
on her high chair tray.
As she munches away,
swinging her short legs,
she asks thoughtfully,
Granma, are you
pooping?
I continue my bite of oatmeal,
take a sip of coffee,
respond—No darling.
How about you?
She isn’t either…
as we both wonder
what to say next.

*

After I Attend a Talk by the Somali Refugee

Migrating south for my annual holiday,
I’m at ease on the bus to the ferry,
where I will cross a wide bay,
relax at the sea.
Wheels rumble beneath me,
landscapes unfold,
like a dream of plenty—
yellow lilies in a field,
gardens rich with eggplants,
tomatoes, raspberries,
reminding me of home,
where my love,
a woman to whom I’m legally married,
awaits my return.
Soon I will breathe salt sea air,
while winds from another continent
ruffle my hair like one beloved,
as I delight in ocean surf,
gulls’ raucous calling,
the freedom of movement
others die for.

*

It Matters

that Mary Oliver woke early,
and walked along the bay, as morning sun
tore the sheets of darkness from the sky.
It matters that she carried a notebook,
and cared to look into a kingfisher’s soul,
to dig in wet sand for clams,
in which she later tasted the salt sea,
erupting in her mouth, like sex—
that she let the soft body of her body love
what it loved, which was Molly.
It matters that she loved a woman.
It matters that we each wake
to stride our own snow dunes,
finding in each day something of value,
even the last ash leaf hanging on a winter limb,
shivering a bit, then falling into stillness,
over and over to lose ourselves
into something larger,
something better. It matters that I clutch
my stack of her books—those fields of light—
now that her body has gone
into the cottage of darkness.

*

Laura Foley is the author of seven poetry collections. Why I Never Finished My Dissertation received a starred Kirkus Review, was among their top poetry books of 2019, and won an Eric Hoffer Award. Her collection It’s This is forthcoming from Salmon Press in 2021. Her poems have won numerous awards, and national recognition—read frequently by Garrison Keillor on The Writers Almanac; appearing in Ted Kooser’s American Life in Poetry. Laura lives with her wife, Clara Gimenez, among the hills of Vermont. www.laurafoley.net

A Hot Day in Madrid by Laura Foley

A Hot Day in Madrid

We return to her mother,
same apartment six floors up,
elevator so rickety, I walk the unlit stairs.

Her husband’s old coat
hangs in the hallway closet,
forty years past his death,

the electric bill’s in his name,
his watch in her drawer
no longer keeps time.

The same city grime
coats windows, yellowed shades,
faded wallpaper.

She pours cold water into the old fan,
asks for stories of our forty days
walking across Spain,

the cathedrals, towns,
beaches she remembers,
a level of walking her body

has long forgotten, the way
she has not stayed the same,
the ways we have changed.

*

Laura Foley is the author of seven poetry collections. Why I Never Finished My Dissertation received a starred Kirkus Review, was among their top poetry books of 2019, and won an Eric Hoffer Award. Her collection It’s This is forthcoming from Salmon Press in 2021. Her poems have won numerous awards, and national recognition—read frequently by Garrison Keillor on The Writers Almanac; appearing in Ted Kooser’s American Life in Poetry. Laura lives with her wife, Clara Gimenez, among the hills of Vermont. http://www.laurafoley.net

Radiance by Laura Foley

Radiance

I remember when I stopped
not believing in God, it sent me
to my knees pleading,
hands clasped like a penitent
or a medieval saint transported
to the modern age,
struck by my mother’s stroke.
A Litany flowed through me,
of faintly remembered prayers,
growing as I spoke,
my knees impervious to the hard tile,
cramped between sink and bath.
Yet, when I opened the door,
I feigned no inner change,
knew my husband’s unknowingness
would try to eclipse my newfound light,
turn brilliance to a dull watered gray
with his scoffing gaze, the planet
of his non-belief
blocking me from radiating.
I didn’t wish to rejoin him in the cave
where I once found comfort,
watching shadows dance.
It was the start
of the end of us, the beginning
of my brighter epoch.

 

 

Laura Foley is the author of seven poetry collections. Why I Never Finished My Dissertation received a starred Kirkus Review, was among their top poetry books of 2019, and won an Eric Hoffer Award. Her collection It’s This is forthcoming from Salmon Press in 2021. Her poems have won numerous awards, and national recognition—read frequently by Garrison Keillor on The Writers Almanac; appearing in Ted Kooser’s American Life in Poetry. Laura lives with her wife, Clara Gimenez, among the hills of Vermont. www.laurafoley.net