On reading the news of my neighbor’s foreclosure
Your daughter was building a bookshelf
that last time we had tea, sunlight a shawl
over your shoulders.
Two curly haired grandchildren pushed
past our legs and we each brushed our fingers
along their backs, they arched like lazy cats
and then crawled away.
The pines behind the barn were covered in snow
and blue jays. So many that their raucous calls drew
us all onto the back porch, where we stood,
one child in my arms, one in yours, and your daughter,
with a mouthful of nails, cradling a soft plank
of a warm and golden wood.
This poem is what it says it is, something that unfolded as I read the local paper, skimming the pages of foreclosure notices. The neighbor that I wrote about had moved out of the house, shifted by other bad news, but I paused on seeing her name, and remembered her home, the place she had raised her four children; then took her grandchildren and grown daughter in. I remembered the kitchen, the laughter, how tenuous that hold, on what is “ours”, can be. I used the daughter to anchor the poem with her building the bookshelf and then holding the wood, this with the grandchildren seemed to fit how a house always being remade, how each generation remakes a house, imprints their lives into the rooms.
M E Hope
I am a dry-side Oregonian, raised on the right side of the state — geographically. I have been a farm worker, a maid, worked in the forest and on the retail floor of a department store/behemoth that shall not be named; traveled the world in the Navy, crunched numbers in a mortgage servicing company, herded farmers through the labyrinth of the Farm Bill and now have the sweetest job imaginable as a rural branch librarian, no saddle or lasso required. My poems can be found in Hubbub, Rattle, Cloudbank, High Desert Journal and the anthologies New Poets of the American West, These Mountains That Separate Us, and What the River Brings: Oregon River Poems. I have been a recipient of Fishtrap Fellowship, a Playa Residency and, just recently, an Oregon Arts Commission Individual Artist Fellowship. My chapbook The Past is Clean was published in 2010 by Uttered Chaos. I live just outside Klamath Falls with my husband Jerry, and our dwindling pet population.