Sunday Apr 14

GriffinBill Bill Griffin is a family physician and geriatrician in rural North Carolina. His poems have appeared in many regional and national journals including Tar River Poetry, Poem, NC Literary Review, Pembroke Magazine, and JAMA.  In 2008 Griffin collaborated with historian and illustrator Linda French Griffin to produce Snake Den Ridge, A Bestiary (March Street Press).  Celebrating mountain ecology and biophilia, the poems speak in the voices of creatures of the Great Smoky Mountains; Linda French Griffin’s drawings accompany each poem and also include native flora.  Of Griffin’s latest collection, little mouse (Main Street Rag, 2011), Rhett Iseman Trull writes: “Part book of psalms, part primer on the human condition, these gentle lyrics take us on a journey through the richness that is life, with all its mystery and paradox, where the dread that comes in one breath is answered by joy in the next.” Visit his website: Verse and Image

Twenty-Three Grays

The first is crossing the Ohio into Marietta,
not the green river yearning west
but each of its scalloped reflections
like scales on a crappy, and at each ripple’s
lip a premonition of ice.

Next: passing the first car southbound
salt-encrusted with two hundred miles
of I-77—what color is it really?  A casual visitor
to this state still our home may claim
there is no color here, but doesn’t gray
enfold the possibility of every color? 
Sky layered in bands dark and darker
preserving as in a comforter some memory:
warm purple; fingery hawthorn
and buckeye almost yellow; cattails
coyly pink; dark earth chocolate
between cream snowcrests –
all of them holding everything within.

In Canton the window eyes of Mercy
Hospital passing no judgement;
in Akron, the stone walls of Rockne’s,
frost like stale beer foam; peeling letters
at the exit sign: Peninsula/Hudson.
Geese in the ditch beside a Cape Cod;
rust-gray girders where we drive beneath
tank cars, coal cars, and then the Turnpike
overpass.  And as we reach your driveway,
rime, old tears the wipers can’t beat back.

Those who’ve never left here, do they notice?
And we who return, can we name
what comforts us?  Only in his eighties
did your Dad’s hair surrender to the shades
of sky and winter fields, and now when I hold
you close full of days recalled, stories
we’re sharing as if for the first time,
the good full color of Dad’s life now passed
fully into our hearts, I see in your hair thin streams
coalescing, bands of evening sky and highway,
winters we will hold together, and the springs.

After the Storm

By dusk the sky is clearing,
by midnight, moon;
next morning the branches fill
with vireos and warblers, puffs
of restless saffron,
chestnut, smoke.
I get the message but dawdle
to return your call; now you
think I’m too busy and
refuse to sing to me.
When we meet the sky
curdles and there’s a threat
of lightning.
These little birds migrate
through darkness
drawn onward by stars
and magnetism
down the spine of the coast
and across the gulf.
After the storm they glean
insects from twists of maritime
reprieve, gather breath
and promises.
You aren’t angry.  You only wanted
to share with me
the visitation
of their brief bodies, but I
struggle against
the tug of earth, I
am blind to stars.