Friday, November 7, 2014

Penelope Schott

Wisdom Spell

The whole family bathed in the iron tub on the porch.
You, the youngest, got the water last. 

Today you are back in that washtub, so old, so clean,
so raw, wisdom comes soaking in

through your crepe paper skin.
Wrap yourself in a white towel dried stiff on the line.

Put whatever you think you know and want to share
into this dented tin bucket:                                                                        

            how to cook okra
            so it doesn’t slime
            how to approximate
            how to forgive

Hold the bucket out to the young. Jiggle it, like this.
Notice how not even one plump, unwrinkled hand

will come reaching for that bucket.  No matter.
Recite after me:

      Bucket, spill.              
      Tub, rust.                  
             Bucket, spill.
              Tub, rust.
      Porch boards, rot.     
      Rust, flake into soil.    
            Porch boards, rot.                                    
            Flake into soil.

Now you are wise.



On a dry ridge above the Columbia River,
a yellow lab – the kind of gentle old dog
where when you look at his folded ears
you want to say aw – sprawls in the shade
of a cottonwood.  The firewood is chopped
unevenly and the house needs paint.  Far, far
below, on the distant bridge, if there are cars,
they’re invisible, and the round eastern hills
are brown.  Meanwhile, here up on the ridge,
someone came and arranged flower baskets,
tables, benches, and two scrap-iron globes,
and then that person seems to have vanished,
leaving these humped rocks to sleep in rows
like obedient children at nap time.  Nobody
is coming, and nobody is going.  What if this
were the first moment after the Apocalypse,
and nothing remained but the dog and me
and that double barge just now passing under
the bridge, and the long white wake foaming
behind it?

© Penelope Schott


No comments:

Post a Comment