Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Poem of the Day: “On the Road after a Record Rain” by Ellaraine Lockie, Poet of the Week

Songs of Eretz Poetry Review is pleased to present “On the Road after a Record Rain” by Ellaraine Lockie, Poet of the Week.  A brief bio of Lockie may be found here:

On the Road after a Record Rain
Ellaraine Lockie

Morning coffee at the Bear Paw Bakery
requires the mettle of a Montana driver
The car acts like a drunk on the dirt road
Sloppy as a warm chocolate bar
I relax the steering wheel the way I learned at 14 
to let go and give in to invisible great forces
Press the accelerator in my vintage Lucchese boot
to ten m.p.h. with no braking 
To keep from sliding into the roadside parade 
of young pheasants behind their mother 

Down the road a cottontail wasn't so lucky
In polite farmer protocol its flattened body 
has been moved to the far side of the road 
A murder of crows waits on a power line
to clean up the evidence
Feathers gleaming like the coal
my father mined in the years crops failed

Back at the cabin the die-hard walker 
in me eases into Wellingtons
Not what I'd ever wear into the town 
of Tony Lamas, John Deeres and Durangos
Mud has mortared enough on the dirt road for footprints 
My earmark on the same land that was branded
by parents and grandparents

The swarm of dragonflies sired by heavy rains
disperses to flit from yarrow 
to wheat grass to wild geraniums
Sun lights them like day fireflies
and heats the still air with sweet grass 
vanilla scent and anise of coneflowers
The whole prairie sings a green song
By the time I backtrack to the cabin
tires have erased any right of ownership
The land has claimed itself once again

Poet’s Notes:  This is a love song about place.  One way to keep a special place alive is to write about it.  In the case of this poem, the place is a wheat farming community on the plains in Northern Montana that I consider my real home.  Although my permanent address is in Northern California, I still live as often as I can in Montana, albeit much of the time the living is emotional, mental, and spiritual.  The homestead that used to my family’s and the little town and the prairie surrounding them ground me like nothing else can.  

This poem is one out of many that I regularly read to myself as a kind of mantra.  It’s a comfort, almost a prayer.  I use this one in particular when I can’t get to sleep at night.  I take the walk in my mind and often change the season, encountering the corresponding landscapes, weather and animals, and often before I finish the walk I’m drowsy enough to fall asleep.  And if I can’t, I’m at least relaxed and happy. 

Editor’s Note:  I enjoy the way Lockie weaves poetic devices into the narrative, her simile regarding the dragonflies being a particular favorite.  The story holds my interest, and I further enjoy the way she plays with time here, seamlessly fusing elements of past, present, and future into the narrative.  The "boots" motif adds a nice human element and serves to unify the various parts of the piece. “On the Road After a Record Rain” was first published in Casa de Cinco Hermanas in 2014.