Two Poems by Lois P. Jones

Two Poems by Lois P. Jones

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Finalist : Terrain.org 9th Annual Contest in Poetry

Descanso Gardens

To Scatter at Descanso Gardens

Cuando yo me muera,
enterradme si queris en una veleta.
Cuando yo me muera!  ~ Lorca


When evening arrives
as a stranger in velvet slippers
it has no shadow
         but you panic
at your mirrored reflection
in the dark.

It feels like death—
a spider waiting
and when you leave
         this body
it will weave you
into forgetting.

But you want to remember all
          you’ve ever been
a Buddha beneath
the Bodhi tree.

Watch your lives
       burn away
like a great forest
             then the calm
                         the ash.                  

the gardener says
             he’ll find you again,
when he’s troweled
the upper fields

             and dug the weeds away.
     He’ll talk to you
so you’ll never be lonely.

He knows how deer leap
             the fence
in the closed hours
to graze on the sweetest grasses.

             How the ghosts
of the scrub oaks wander.
There are nights

when the moon slips off
            its white coat
and every wild thing
stirs in its cauldron.

When the wind rattles
     the leaves
you’ll be buried like Lorca
in a weather vane—

the one that stands
near the fiery maple
          how it turns and turns
toward the stars
cold with memory.

Raron, Switzerland. Photo by Lois P. Jones.

To a Friend at Rilke’s Grave in Raron

Alles ist eins. ~ Rilke
                for Lia

The black-faced sheep
            are bleating, their bells

a soft song—a clinking of spoons
            in tin cups—a call to presence

when the world draws them
            into its map of the living. 

The pines trees know how the dark hum
            of a new season enters the lungs

like a promise. And if it is a promise
            how can it be sustained? 

I stand in bare feet near my rucksack
            and the grey slate path

to his grave. The mountains offer distance,
            the snow a memory of a life

I barely recall. Just the blue repeating
            of the Alps and from somewhere a chant—

three words that fall from the air
            as my shadow touches his grave.

And as I whisper them over and over
            I cannot say he isn’t present. 

I cannot say the dead don’t move toward
            what calls them. Only how the valley stretches

its worn jacket on the grass
            and begs me to stay. How my heart

is a spinnaker in the wind
            catching the breath of it. I linger as long

as I can—until the shadow of his cross
            escapes into darkness. I make my way back

through the mosaic of gravestones
            and the plots of bright flowers planted

near each grave. Cross the corner
            where the aspen trembles

and then I see you just as you are—awoken
            from the place of dreams and I cannot tell where

the soft green slope of the hill ends
            and your hip begins. I want to say

don’t forget her, she’s still on the hill,
            her body shaded from October sun—

her face in profile, arms resting on knees
            as she looks into the deepening vale.  

Aren’t parts of us buried in the lands we meet?
            Our souls broken into bones

sure as flint. There are foxes like wood smoke
            in the body. They move quietly in the forest.  

They know one of their own. They will find you.
            They will dig you up.

Raron, Switzerland. Photo by Lois P. Jones.



Lois P. JonesLois P. Jones is the author of Night Ladder (Glass Lyre Press, 2017). Prize honors include the Lascaux Poetry Prize in 2017, the Bristol Poetry Prize in 2016, and the Tiferet Poetry Prize in 2012. She has work published or forthcoming in New Voices: Contemporary Writers Confronting the Holocaust (Vallentine Mitchell of London, 2019), Narrative, Tupelo Quarterly, and American Poetry Journal. She is the poetry editor of Kyoto Journal and hosts Pacifica Radio’s Poets Cafe in Los Angeles.

Header and other photos of Descanso Gardens and Raron, Switzerland by Lois P. Jones.


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