Poems by Barbara McGaw

 

Memorial Day

 

I.

the spade in the backseat rattles

as Mom and I locate the cemetery plots

i crane my neck to see geraniums 

looking considerate in their red clay pots

and easing us into this yearly ritual

the grandmothers know who has come

to rake and water

daughters tend the graves

as we stand in this quiet place

we feel the continuum of time

 

II.

i used to fear the graveyard

strangled by root-bound grasses

the recurring blackness

where husks of bodies are planted 

and a mockery is made of warm-blooded veins

here you are forced into the opaque

where fear divides body from mind

and panic constricts the throat

 

III.

when I make an end 

i want to throw off my soul 

like concentrated light

embrace the interchange

while stars rip trails like once bright eyes

won’t you dig down with your hands

in the unturned earth 

to plant my memory deep

won’t you force the bloom back into my cheeks

with wild geranium kisses


Hibiscus

 

The hibiscus

in its basket

sits in sun-

flowers yawning

yellow tonsils showing-

its closed buds

nose the glass

beneath a cloistered sun

 

If I were

Georgia O’Keefe

immersed

in her flowers

I’d paint these

resplendent swirls

from slender pistils twirling-

Spanish dancers in the rain

 

The hibiscus

in its basket

gives up

its blossoms lightly

Through day

and moonful night

they open 

fade then drop-

folded umbrellas by my door


A Charm of Finches

 

barely seen

    in late November camouflage

tawny finches graze

 

bell-weather of snow

    they settle to feed among the dead grasses

and squirrel scattered seed

 

how unlike their yellow plumage

    my honeybees of summer

they charm me for a while

 

until some whim of wind

    sends them streaking up and outward

like billiards on a break

 

 

 

 

About the Author

Barbara McGaw lives in Freeland, at the southern edge of Michigan's Northern forest. She has always enjoyed writing poetry, though she started reworking her collection of poems for publication upon her retirement from teaching. 
She is the recipient of the Abbie Copps Prize for Poetry, sponsored by Olivet College, for her poem "A Stone Heart".