"Soon you'll be back on this green lap of land / called Tennessee."
for Paula Capps Kyser
The inner work must be done in the well
of drawer among pebbled buttons kept
for whenever, lavender sachets spilling
their guts, Grandmama’s cat’s-eye glasses
askance, my pride pierced on her pincushion.
Only there can I sift what hangs loose
on my shoulders, the stained, the torn,
the crocheted illusories that will never
see light of day. Keys to nowhere,
Irish pence, the pocket Psalms and Proverbs
have no providence, no commerce
in my wilderness, though I rub each
faux pearl as talisman, the Long Nights Moon
heartsick at my window. Strayed, undone
in the layers, I dig to the bottom, wooden thud
that nips my heel, turns me to the field
of what never emptied in the first place,
not bargain or plea but steppingstones,
uneaten breadcrumbs, one then another.
The buckeye and amethyst still harbor luck.
Old stockings will do for garden stakes,
for spring coming sure.
a note from the author
“Wanderlust” and “Inner Work” were written about sixteen years apart. In “Wanderlust,” I imagine my youngest daughter, Rachel, as she travels abroad to Wales and Scotland, the first time she’d been so far from home. I want her to experience life to the fullest, but I bring my own experiences to bear—fearfulness, danger, yet the thrill and great importance of independence. The usual mix of emotions a mother feels for her child leaving home as they sow “the rough seeds of becoming,” both together and apart. “Inner Work” is an interesting contrast to “Wanderlust.” The first poem is expansive, moving from home out across the Atlantic and back again. The second is rooted in the drawer of the psyche, digging past questions and answers, to the reserves of strength from the past, to what is still possible in the mounting losses as I age (an unexpected life change, my father’s worsening dementia) and yet keep learning how best to be human. We can only pray that, as we travel through our personal wilderness and continue to “become,” that we carry a mantle of hope on our shoulders “for spring coming sure.”
Linda Parsons is a poet, playwright, freelance editor, and the reviews editor at Pine Mountain Sand & Gravel. She has contributed to The Georgia Review, Iowa Review, Prairie Schooner, Southern Poetry Review, The Chattahoochee Review, Shenandoah, and Ted Kooser’s syndicated column, American Life in Poetry, among many other journals and anthologies. Her most recent poetry collection is This Shaky Earth, and her newest endeavor is writing for The Hammer Ensemble, the social justice wing of Flying Anvil Theatre.