Be Still In the feast of too much striving, the glutton is disgraced, courting waves of feeling, motive and obligation without grace. The iron escalator sweeps irrevocably to the underground, commuters dead-ending in trains to cubicles, chasing grace. Amid marketplace tumult, roasting meat, catcalling buyers and sellers, the infant naps in the sun, soft fist raised, making grace. That point of impossible stillness, the yacht racing heeled over, sheets and sail kissing white caps, cantilevered grace. Odysseus bends his heavy bow, at full tensile strength pausing the arrow, memory caressing her face, readiness a grace. Above eggs laid in the impelling current of interlaced streams, the red salmon hangs, fins and tail, mere shiver of grace. Once upon a time, the elements of our bodies leapt to life alongside stars in their arcs, our spark potential for grace. When the comet traces across the night sky, awe precedes wish, self the empty eye in the vortex, identity a process of grace. Nancy, body still mind still, who are you when you cease intending? Molten silver starlight lapping the cubicle’s edge, the crucible’s grace.
Red Tulip He picked my red tulip, sign of spring, and left it frayed and drooping in the weeds. If only he had brought it to his mother’s lap, and she watered and set it in the window like a homecoming, the prodigal arriving who picked my red tulip, sign of spring. He tore a ragged wound, heedless of flesh separating, severing the earth vein. If only he had brought it to his mother’s lap, not even a trophy, just a momentary lapse in impulse control, kin waiting to welcome him, he who picked my red tulip, sign of spring. Respite of rain, a few petals on the sidewalk, and he takes his shadow with him, smiling-- if only he had brought it to his mother’s lap she might have mended his compassion, but he had only boys, fellow jokesters who picked my red tulip, sign of spring. If only he had brought it to his mother’s lap.
Nancy Knowles teaches English and Writing at Eastern Oregon University in La Grande, OR. Her ghazal “Be Still” earned an honorable mention in the Oregon Poetry Association’s 2019 Spring Contest. She has published poetry in Toyon; Eastern Oregon Anthology: A Sense of Place; Torches n’ Pitchforks; War, Literature, & the Arts; Oregon East; and Willawaw Journal. Her poem “Sixth-Grade Homework” is available at http://wlajournal.com/wlaarchive/29/knowles.pdf and “The Only Eternal” at http://willawawjournal.com/category/journal/willawaw-journal-winter-2018-issue-5/page/5/