Home Literary Arts Two Poems by Lenny Lianne

Two Poems by Lenny Lianne

Two Poems by Lenny Lianne

No one can tie down the stars 
in one place, my father said
as he explained how the summer
constellations were different
from those in December.

The night air was hot and humid
and, half-asleep, I sort of listened
to him point out the shapes and
in which part of the summer sky
to look for these star clusters.

Then he’d tell their stories, 
presenting an impression of whom
the person or deity had been and
the legend of how they’d arrived
in the vast and dark sky.

The soft sibilant rise and
drop in the sound of cicadas
made it easy to sort of sleep
and hard to even half-listen,
yet he never nudged me awake

to pay attention to what he was
teaching, never needed me
to rattle back the lesson.
He was happy to be in the back
yard with me and the stars.

Though I now turn to star charts
and probe the old mythologies
for what he’d already explained,
I’m confident that in the end
he recited the right answers

to satisfy the forty-two gods
of ancient Egypt. Yet I wonder 
how a heart so full of patience 
and love would be in balance
with the weight of a feather.
— But he’d know.

Let us praise evolution
that delivered the vulture
with its ugly, bald head

and its inbred protection 
against pernicious bacteria 
as it banquets on rank carrion.

Let us also praise the possum,
often spotted near roadkill.
When attacked, this animal 

falls on its side, lips drawn back,
teeth bared and its beady eyes
half-closed, as if dead or dying.

Now let us praise the grave,
hollowed out by a backhoe, 
the gash in the ground, a narrow 

maw waiting for the lowered
casket.  Throw your handful
of soil on top of the coffin

and say a prayer for the hole
in your heart, the looming
days of dejection, dire nights

tossing between the what-ifs
and the whys, plus the sad truth
of the empty side of your bed.

Pray for an evolution toward calm
acceptance and, when it comes, praise
the healing, hallelujah, the healing.

Lenny Lianne was born in Washington, DC and raised in Northern Virginia. She is the author of five books of poetry including her latest, Sunshine Has Its Limits (Kelsay Books) and holds an MFA in Creative Writing from George Mason University. Lenny is a world traveler, who now lives in Arizona with her husband and their dog.

Image: “Night Sky Over the Maple Trees” by Mmfgh under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 international license.


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