Lyn Coffin – Lyn
is currently a Writer in the Schools for Seattle Arts and Lectures, an actor
with EffectiveArts, and an experienced certified social
worker. She is the author of seven books, three of original poetry, four of
translation from Russian and Czech. One of her stories appeared lifetimes ago
in Best American Short Stories, edited by Joyce Carol Oates..
She moved to
Kevin Miller – Kevin lives in
Ocean lives in
Ned's Aria (a run on sestina)
Beginnings, yes. But who knows how things will end?
As a feverish child, singing in my everyday sickbed,
I didn't. Neither did my seamstress mother, forced to bend
every night over her own lap, biting off thread
as she sewed. She said, "The truth isn't in wine,
or song. If you want the truth, you have to divine
it like underground water, with a stick, not try to define
it as yours, but the one truth worth knowing, we learn at the end."
My Sunday school teachers didn't confine
themselves to the truth: "Sing at the table, sing in bed,"
they said, "The Devil will get you when you're dead."
They really thought-- I thought, as well-- God would send
singers of love songs to hell. But my path there took a sudden bend
in high school, when my art teacher praised "the Romantic, divine
Fragonard..." She said Classicism was hanging by a thread,
his swinging girl, her half-off shoe, marked its end.
I hung a poster of that girl above my bed:
I could almost hear her singing. Some nights, I'd dream her fine
day, her lover, her world, her after-world, were mine:
I'd swing into heaven on a song. But that dream would end
in daylight guilt, my covers at the foot of my bed.
Mom said, "Start dating. Develop your own party line."
Her words wandered. When she finally found the deep end
of her life, her mind bent over, and bit off the thread
of her thought.... Ned, my college voice coach, said
"Your voice is hopeless, and I love you." Ned drank too much wine,
but he wove my name into an aria. He became my friend,
my confidante, my lover. The school year came to an end,
and Ned had no job. He got drunk and enlisted one fine
May day- Nine months later, his last letter home said
music obscured the truth... When I'm lying in bed
some nights, the aria Ned rewrote for me starts to thread
its way through the dark of my mind like a musical vine.
The ticking clock is a metronome, then, not a mine.
I hear his love song coming from beyond the bend,
"Carolyn ben, credimi almen."
A sword hangs by a thread above the bed
I call mine. I hope our spirits will blend into mercy
like music at the end: it's a hope I savor like wine.
When My Mother
tired of her life, she re-arranged
furniture and re-painted the porch.
On the way home from school,
I'd see the hydrangea staked back
like a blue circus tent in a big wind.
Once she recovered, she asked me
to paint the house to match.
My mother tried to drive fear from my life.
She gathered a box of snakes to show the way.
After school when she opened the lid,
the snakes had disappeared.
She giggled till she cried, her box of air
and tears a cloud I carried around
until another woman blamed me for rain.
When our mother died, she was fifty-seven
and down to eighty pounds. She ordered
living room carpet and talked of her youngest's
graduation. The next ceremony, Father said,
Stiff upper lip, so we swallowed the sky
in thin sips. My brother, just fourteen,
did the dead man's float for a year.
Another November nears, and water color
falls from maples, other worlds return
through the lines of black limbs.
My daughter's laughter winds through a day
the way slough carries the markings of another
season. No one fears winter, the northerly
blue-eyed clarity to match mother reason.
The end of your liquidy undulations came
When you dragged your flowerpot head out
Of the purse-seine net onto the iron ships’ deck
And slimed down a drain hole
Behind the rear cargo hold.
We didn’t get to you for eight days cuz the catch was on.
By then you stank and had frozen into a solid wad against a grease trap.
We had to crack you out in bits.
I kept and thawed your black-pouch;
Your ink has let me write these lines.