365 Degrees

Tom Johnson
Poetry Editor


Weather Report

On this island suspended in a single season
I've learned to drift free of you
and the weight of our life together.

But tonight I heard the slow dropping
Satie piece we used to love.
A rain of notes edged with weather.
A song to haunt an empty room.
A thought that hangs like a shadow
in the pause between day and night.

Images of you and me hover
in this pause, in this blue hour
when the past is present
and the future trembles
like a pool of water
touched by a passing cloud.

We said goodbye when autumn rain was falling
in the empty Sunday streets of a wornout city.
The last leaves of fool's gold scaled
wet black branches like missing notes
from an unfinished symphony.

I left you there
in a complicated climate
where each hard freeze
sent the cold closer
to the heart of the earth.
But tonight, I remember
how brightly we burned
just before the fall.

Lives of Plants

Two small sunflowers have taken root
in the poor soil by the front porch,
and erupted in a biting yellow.
Like Gauguin's "listening eyes,"
they watch the passing clouds and cars,
while the lipstick red geraniums
pose along the steps like chorus girls,
and common blue-bowled morning glories
are busy at their ceaseless weaving
on makeshift looms of stick and string.

What stories they could tell
about an earth-bound life
spent simply flowering.

Still Life

In our corner of the recovery room,
curtains drawn around the bed
muffle the sounds of life
that rise and fall
like the roar of the ocean
in an empty shell.

Like the other couples in this room,
we have delivered our child from the tight-fisted womb,
wrapped her in a blanket like the smallest mummy,
cupped the downy bowl of her unknitted skull,
blessed her with a name to mark her place in time.
Emma, we say. Emma.

her swaddling cloth
a flannel shroud
printed with pastel bunnies,
her christening
an epitaph.

In our corner of the recovery room,
you find my brush and awkwardly begin
removing the tangles from my hair,
wild and matted after hours of labor.
Light fades from high windows.
My hair drifts across the pillow.
I close my eyes and lie very still,
floating away from what might have been
while you unravel time.

Nikki Hardin is a Kentucky native who came to the Charleston area from Washington, D.C., in 1985. She has been engaged in literary pursuits for many years and has been writing poetry all her life. She currently publishes Skirt!, a Charleston-based newspaper for women.

© Copyright by POINT, 1995
Last modified 10/11/95