Poetry Corner: April 2018

This month we are happy to feature Audrianne Hill as she reflects upon the strength and beauty of her Father’s dreams. And what a joy to discover how spacious this little corner can be! Thank you Audrianne, teacher of prayer, for how YOU pay attention and help us do the same. (RS)

There have been many poets whose words on the page have left a mark on my soul. Billy Collins, Jack Ridl, Galway Kinnell, Jane Kenyon, Linda Pastan, Lucille Clifton…where do I stop? But the one who never fails to speak to me is Mary Oliver. One Saturday night while listening to A Prairie Home Companion, Garrison Keillor read her poem, “Wild Geese” and later in the evening, “The Journey.” And for a woman who recently ended her engagement, a month before her wedding, Oliver validated my decision to claim my life.

The Summer Day
by Audrianne Hill

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean –
The one who has flung herself out of the grass,
The one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
Who is moving her jaws back and forth
instead of up and down-
Who is gazing around with her enormous
and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts up her pale forearms and
throughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats
away.
I don’t know exactly what prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to
fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll
the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

The poem, “The Empty Horseshoe”, was written for a grad class in 2001. It’s a confessional poem of sorts. My father did want a life like John Wayne’s characters in the westerns. Seriously. He had grand dreams. And to me, the dream is the first step.

The Empty Horseshoe
by Audrianne Hill

– they say if you nail a horseshoe upside down the luck runs out

When I was younger I knew
who my father was
but he wanted to be John Wayne
in the westerns
with his holster hung on his right hip
and a Remington in his left hand,
creases like the Rio Grande running
along his eyes from squinting
at the noonday sun.
When I was five he moved us
from the suburbs farther into the country.
There was no one for miles.
With a little luck he’d have his ranch,
mom, in Maureen O’Hara fashion,
the local schoolmarm.
We bought horses, raised cattle, had a pig
or two, nineteen dogs.
I didn’t see my father much.
I thought he was on a hill
sitting upon a horse beneath a Mesquite
tree like John McClintock surveying
his domain or out on the Chisholm trail
leading a cattle drive.
That’s where he wanted to be.
That’s where he longed to be.
But he was working two jobs –
2:30 in the morning until 6:30,
then 7:00 until 3:00 in the afternoon
trying to make the dream a reality
but too tired to walk to the barn
when he got home.
He needed extra hours in the day
and a couple more dollars in his pocket.
My father never became like John Wayne.
His boots scuff through empty barns
while at his heels tags a borrowed dog.
My father is just my dad.
Disappointment sits in the saddle. No one
rides by his side and he watches
as they ride off into the sunset.

02/21/01

~hosted by Randy Smit and Rhonda Edgington