Blueberry by Tamara Madison

Blueberry

They say there is no blue food.
Is the blueberry not blue?
It is navy, yes. And navy
is a kind of blue. True, inside
the berry is green
like the churning surf,
green as the newest leaf.
And at its base, a puckered
crown, a navel, a monument
to the fallen flower.
At the crown where a stem
once grew, there’s a firm
and plucky mark, brave scar
proudly won, badge
of independence, of readiness
to face the world alone,
a will to be eaten.

*

Tamara Madison is the author of the chapbook “The Belly Remembers”, and two full-length volumes of poetry, “Wild Domestic” and “Moraine”, all published by Pearl Editions. Her work has appeared in Chiron Review, the Worcester Review, A Year of Being Here, Nerve Cowboy, the Writer’s Almanac and many other publications. A swimmer, dog lover and native of the southern California desert, she has recently retired from teaching English and French in a Los Angeles high school. Read more about her at tamaramadisonpoetry.com.

Drawer by Tamara Madison

Drawer
                              UCSB, 1973

A few days after the seduction
he decides to talk to me,
asks me to go to the clinic.
Make sure there is no growth,
he says.

Now I am looking up at the light.
My knees are spread and two women
sit at the foot of my table.
They carry on a lively conversation
as they work. I’m not listening.
I feel the warm light
on my newly-wakened
nether world,
and the women begin
to search inside me
as in a drawer.

I imagine them pulling things out –
bottle caps, old tires, tampons of course,
lipstick tubes, wrappers, leaves,
a shred from Seventeen magazine…
But I’m not so old, I want to protest,
I’ve barely begun my collection!

You’re fine, they tell me
and hand me a prescription
to make me bleed. Outside
it’s raining. I sit in French class
staring out at the rows
of eucalyptus dripping
in their ragged bark,
at the stream of bicycles
hissing on the wet path.
I watch him round the corner
as always at this time:
brown bike
violin tucked under one arm
beard trimmed
too old to be a student.

*

Tamara Madison is the author of the chapbook “The Belly Remembers”, and two full-length volumes of poetry, “Wild Domestic” and “Moraine”, all published by Pearl Editions. Her work has appeared in Chiron Review, the Worcester Review, A Year of Being Here, Nerve Cowboy, the Writer’s Almanac and many other publications. A swimmer, dog lover and native of the southern California desert, she has recently retired from teaching English and French in a Los Angeles high school. Read more about her at tamaramadisonpoetry.com.

Two Poems by Tamara Madison

Loss Litany
When did you lose your filter? a colleague asked that year before my retirement
when I couldn’t handle another senseless staff meeting.
When did you lose your virginity? a student asked, as though it were her business
but I told the truth so she’d know it doesn’t have to happen in high school.
When did you lose your father? a new friend asks and suddenly I feel remiss,
as though I should have kept better track of him.
The doctor wanted to know how: How did I lose the IUD? Did it fall out on the street?
he actually asked, until it turned up on the X-ray, half sunk in the wall of my womb.
I still wonder how I lost that diamond earring, the one generous gift a lover gave me
on a whim; its mate reclines now on a black velvet bier in the gift box it came in.
And how did I lose that friend from college, the one I reconnected with in two different
cities before he vanished into some far place where emails are read but not returned?
Of all of these, it’s the coffin-shaped fake ruby from the ring my mother wore
until she gave it to me when I turned 12 that I wonder most about;
the empty setting, silver filigree, rolls around every time I open the drawer
where I keep orphaned earrings and gifts I haven’t the heart to return.
I remember it on her strong, brown finger, and how it skewed to the right on my own,
how my sister in the throes of dementia used to stare at it, asking Mother?
Faith
You either have it or you don’t.
Sometimes it’s given, and you wear it like an amulet.
Sometimes imposed, and you bear it like a yoke.
Sometimes it’s just a name you repeat, repeat, repeat,
working to make it part of you; you take it in
the way a tree accepts and grows around a nail.
For some, it’s embodied in a wafer, a set of beads,
a sheaf of onion-skin pages in a handed-down book,
a scroll affixed to a door frame.
For some, an elusive spirit that vanishes
as they draw near; they spend their lives in the search.
I’ve lived this long without religion, yet
I breathe faith every morning when the sun rises; it carries me
through the days, a current bearing onward toward night
where I drift in my heart’s canoe along black water.
*
Tamara Madison is the author of the chapbook “The Belly Remembers”, and two full-length volumes of poetry, “Wild Domestic” and “Moraine”, all published by Pearl Editions. Her work has appeared in Chiron Review, the Worcester Review, A Year of Being Here, Nerve Cowboy, the Writer’s Almanac and many other publications. A swimmer, dog lover and native of the southern California desert, she has recently retired from teaching English and French in a Los Angeles high school. Read more about her at tamaramadisonpoetry.com.