Vagabond Girl Has Yet to Marry
The right question got lost,
thin coin down a gutter grate.
I’m not much for logic
and nagging slows the dance.
I’m all for bridges
that tempt my forest-drunk soul.
I twirl red skirts
right over the vagrant river.
Some days I believe one chooses, or else
I just impersonate a woman who cares.
Melt my heart down to its core
and I might say yes.
Vagabond Girl Sings a Song
Lyrics scrubbed in a cold heaven,
rhymes carved in a rose-moss field,
melody round as plums.
It’s an old story
and it whirs in longing,
and it makes mama cry.
It has a bird,
the long rolling of waves,
and quite a bit of sorrow.
I sing it big and kind of ugly,
I sing it small as a hummingbird egg,
I sing it black current dark with pricks of stars.
Each time I sing it,
wintergreen blooms in my belly.
Vagabond Girl Moves On
Fact is, I see heaven on the perpendicular
from my boots and indirect roads.
All that appeals to girls who stay
in fluffs of dust powder and curtains
is desire in a shuttered box.
The untroubled arms of trees
are a better host to a fever caught alone.
I’m a firekeeper and winds cross over,
Go ahead, try to tame a hawk,
there’s more than wing and talon,
and always a bit of blood.
Diane Jarvenpa is the author of Divining the Landscape (New Rivers Press), Ancient Wonders, the Modern World (Red Dragonfly Press) and The Tender Wild Things (New Rivers Press) which received the Midwest Independent Publishers Association book award in poetry. She is a singer-songwriter who records under the name Diane Jarvi
Bench by the Hardware Store
Each week I sit on this bench,
scarf tied under my chin, bag of sweet things
from the bakery in my lap and I tell my stories.
Sometimes I fear I say listen to me
in that way old women do
when no one wants to hear.
If you sit by a river you can hear
how the swiftness of things can be hard to understand.
My life has told me this over and over
and now I am the Rip Van Winkle of the dragonfly,
the hundred sparrows singing songs
in the trees of the gas station.
Some day you too will find light absent
as it fades faster than you thought possible
and the impatience you carry in your pocket at the ready
will be layered over with unimaginable years,
some holy bruised, some lost and some quite radiant.
But who wants to hear about the thinning of days,
it makes the breath stop to look up and think past stars
to the black universe that spreads out and out.
I am old and still I look up,
you are young and looking down,
pushing buttons on a lit screen.
What an enormous distance
a small square piece of glass creates
on one town bench.
I wonder which is closer, you or the nebulae
brewing in the sky?
I once knew a beekeeper
who said he didn’t mind the smoke and stings
and nobody to talk to,
because there was always the honey.
I guess we can’t solve everything,
but it is easy to make our days lonely.
And where does that leave us?
I am too old to understand your work,
you are too young to hear me talk about
how today I asked yet another young man,
eyes glossed with screen light, his name.
But he never answered.
Before She Knew What It Was
She decided to look for herself
now that she had some time.
And she would actually show up
at a small town park or there she was
listening to a song that purged old fears.
Suddenly she seemed to connect to a whole
of something long lost,
an elaborate knot of former trials and errors
now made into a new pattern.
And when she felt her former self meet up
with her present, it wasn’t necessarily unpleasant,
more like a swig of something bitter
with the slight relief of honey.
It’s wasn’t about aging, though it was past desire.
It was about doubt honed down by miles.
Did she forget what it was she believed
when she was young? Or maybe she hadn’t,
but it had became more of a sour question.
When she was in a car and an egret flew over
she wanted to pull over now and watch
like it was some sort of message the sky has unspooled.
Or she would cry when she looked at a lake
all mackerel from fog and sun.
A lake written by Tu Fu,
painted by Berthe Morisot.
This was not how she was raised,
but now she needed to look at that bird, that lake water
for if she didn’t she had now found a new way to suffer,
because this was a different precinct she was roaming.
For she had found that person that she had somehow forgotten,
staring with child eyes.
And she whispered—
Oh yeah… you. No, don’t go too far,
there’s more here. More.