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Tag: Maggie Anderson

A Few Small Gestures of Concern

Just north of Hartville, Ohio, where I drove today,

thick woods opened out to fields and cattle pastured

down to the lake. My mind was full of lists

of meetings, picking up medication and dry cleaning,

when suddenly for no reason, I was remembering

the time Lynn bought my lunch when

I had money enough to pay for my own, but because

she didn’t know what to say to my grief,

she said I want to buy your lunch,

and it was expensive and good and I was grateful,

which made me think of Sandra whom I haven’t seen in years,

walking beside the Willamette in Portland

in the cold sleet of a November night.

Nothing happened. We walked two city blocks

talking pleasantly about nothing in particular,

then she asked me if I wanted to borrow her gloves.

One afternoon, thirty years ago or more,

in my makeshift office in the Cathedral of Learning

with no furniture but a view of the Heinz Chapel spire

dark with rain and city grime, Ed stuck his head in the door

and said It’s a little alienating, isn’t it?

I wasn’t sure if he meant Pittsburgh, or teaching,

the view, or life in general, but they all were,

and who would have thought I would remember

this so clearly for all these years?

In December 1971 I was visiting Jane Bennett in

California, Pennsylvania, where I called my father

from a wooden phone booth in a drugstore.

He was three days away from his death,

alone in his apartment, aphasic from the strokes.

I told him I love you, and he said

You’re right. Those were his last words to me.

Sometimes when the years come close like this

everything that happened once seems to have been

happening forever: someone is putting cold cloths on my head

because it hurts, someone is sitting on the edge

of my bed where I am a fevered child in another world

far beyond hearing. Today I was only busy,

but when Anna touched my shoulder and told me

Take a little nap, you’re exhausted, I could see I was,

so I lay down heavily, like the bales of hay

the good farmer of Hartville pitched out for his stock,

because the ground is frozen solid,

because the weeds are iced with hoarfrost.

And like the cattle,I ambled over the cold field

to take whatever might be offered now

from the flat bed of the mostly reliable wagon.

from Dear AllFind more by Maggie Anderson at the library

Copyright © 2017 Maggie Anderson
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, LLC on behalf of Four Way Books.

Black Overcoat

From deep inside your black overcoat

words, like a lost bird,

are trying to find a way out—

now that you have begun

you won’t stop and I am waiting.

What is it? What happened?

A long time ago people were hurt and you caused it.

I think you said you were Sorry

or Stupid or Worried.

You were not looking at me—

but staring straight ahead

through the windshield of the car

at the night and the snow.

Trapped in a house, a bird will dive and circle back

from room to room from window to chair

any steady edge

between lifting up and landing—

flight is what comes before telling

or just after.

from Dear AllFind more by Maggie Anderson at the library

Copyright © 2017 Maggie Anderson
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, LLC on behalf of Four Way Books.

At Fifty

My mother died at fifty of

a beautiful word, leukemia.

Nine years earlier

in autumn, she gave birth to me

when the maples in the park

began to turn as they do now.

I don’t know how to walk here,

in the shifting space no meanings fill.

I have now outlived her.

I enter this foreshortened field,

wildly unmothered still.

from Dear AllFind more by Maggie Anderson at the library

Copyright © 2017 Maggie Anderson
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, LLC on behalf of Four Way Books.

Dear All

You whose memory comes to me winter afternoons as the soon gone sun

falls low and thin

You whom I knew long and well

You I knew but slightly, knew not well but cared to,

had there been place enough and time

You who have come to hate me now

You who are the trees out the window to me, the shallow-rooted I have

always loved

I greet you in my unsent letters, in both my random and my steady thoughts

You whom I failed to thank and you I failed to turn to

You I have tried and tried to speak with and have not been able to cross

those seas

You I fought with in the snow in unsatisfactory shoes, marching up and down,

shouting at each other, so hot we were, so cold, the drifts deepening

You I let down and you I picked up by the highway

You who have made a name for yourself

You who were called away and never came back,

you who would not leave

You I worked with as we had never worked before, side by side

in the studio with five windows glazed by yellow light

You I no longer know but fear dead—

drugs, car wrecks, the several wars,

the usual deaths of my generation—

And you who have gone the distance, beyond your disappointments,

your cancers and their dire cures, my friends

I send you this letter, from the landscape of our years together

You must not wonder if I think of you still—

I have remained steadfast here

I have remembered you wholly into this day

from Dear AllFind more by Maggie Anderson at the library

Copyright © 2017 Maggie Anderson
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, LLC on behalf of Four Way Books.

This program is supported in part by a grant from the Idaho Humanities Council, a State-based program of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this (publication, website, exhibit, etc.) do not necessarily represent those of the Idaho Humanities Council or the National Endowment for the Humanities.