Poetry of Kansas Here & Now, There & Then

Posts tagged ‘Maril Crabtree’

How Life Works by Maril Crabtree

Crabtree Head shot - 12%Time is the substance of which I am made. Time . . . is a fire that consumes me, but I am the fire.

Jorge Luis Borges

 

Time, you race car driver, you

careen around corners

and neverslowdown not

for tsunamis or earthquakes

oil slicks or fever blisters

or swamis dancing on nails

not even for the slow lick

of ice cream sweet

in the throat

 

you make me think

I’m here to cheer you on

to wave at your daring

from the stands

but with each lap more

of you disappears

I flag you yellow you

check you but

you speed faster still

 

you sweep me in seconds leave

me covered in dust birthdays

and funerals whiz by, wars

and uprisings your trail of debris

all that jetsam of history

and I hold aloft the only trophy

my consolation prize

the privilege of watching

my own life speed by

~ Maril Crabtree

-previously published in Tying the Light (Finishing Line Press, 2014)

Maril Crabtree married a Kansas boy five decades ago and considers herself a full-bred Kansan by now. She writes poetry and creative nonfiction and is a former poetry editor for Kansas City Voices. Her latest chapbook is Tying the Light (2014).

Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg, guest editor for Dec., is the 2009-13 Kansas Poet Laureate, author or editor of 19 books, and founder of Transformative Language Arts at Goddard College, where she teaches. More on her here.

26. To the Stars Through Difficulty: Maril Crabtree

Water drips and dances through years of drought and rain.

Neighbors argue over wells

that threaten to run dry. Still, harvest comes each year,

grain-laden fields compete

with oil-rigged earth, dark beaks that dip and plunge

into other shrinking pools,

the vast land scrubbed by dust, wiped clean with light

borrowed from a blazing sun,

buttered with an effervescent taste of yellow,
incense of sunflowered soil.
– Maril Crabtree

64. Memorial Day on the Prairie

Each year we plod through spring rain

or dry heat, step with care around new-broken

graves and fresh sod, nod to marbled pride,

generations with the same names as those

still alive back in town. We carefully poke

plastic roses into the ground and whisper

the ritual words. Red for the sister:

“It was her favorite color.” She died

when a drunk in a pickup smashed her red car.

Yellow for the father: “He was so cheerful.”

Except when his last years robbed him

of breath and speech. White for the stillborn

child, who wore the cord around his neck.

Sleeping in sacrificed wheat fields, these

are our loved ones: decades of harvested crops,

bread turned to stone, alone and blind

to these witnesses, scarved heads bowed.

Out here on the prairie, the wind never stops.

— Maril Crabtree

From Moving On (Pudding House Press 2010)

Maril Crabtree has lived in Kansas most of her adult life. Her poems are published in Coal City Review, Flint Hills Review, Steam Ticket, Kalliope, New Works Review and others. She is Poetry Co-editor of Kansas City Voices. Her most recent chapbook is Moving On (Pudding House Press, 2010).

18. Breaking the Drought

Three inches of rain! On the Kansas prairie,

those drowning in dust open their throats.

Listless milo, stunted corn, ragweed

 

and wild alfalfa stand tall. Only the Western

spruce, backyard survivor of endless high winds,

branches burned brown by waterless skies,

 

shows no change. Its owner, at ninety twice the age

of her tree, tough as buffalo grass, fragile

as winter wheat at harvest, jokes, “Everything is half dead

 

and half alive, including me.” We call for an expert.

The County Agent pokes and pinches, breaks off

brittle twigs, notes how few nodes the tree produced

 

for spring growth. When he delivers the news —

we could wait and see how it does through winter,

hope for revival – I’m tempted to agree. But when

 

my mother says, “Let’s cut it down,” I understand:

finally, something she can relieve of its suffering,

something that can come to a clear and certain end.

— Maril Crabtree

From Moving On (Pudding House Press 2010)

 

Maril Crabtree has lived in Kansas most of her adult life. Her poems are published in Coal City Review, Flint Hills Review, Steam Ticket, Kalliope, New Works Review and others. She is Poetry Co-editor of Kansas City Voices. Her most recent chapbook is Moving On (Pudding House Press, 2010).

Tag Cloud

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 515 other followers