ALMOST LIKE THE DOVE
Outdoors, a dove,
one frantic female,
lifts her tail and
her exposed rear end
to attract a male.
This might be amazing
if not that later in the day,
a woman dramatizes
her eyes with a matching,
light layer of shadow and
dark, pencil-thin liner.
She chooses mauve lipstick
to seem more mature
than if she’d put on
her predictable shade
of bubble-gum pink.
Lastly, a dab of perfume.
THE MOTHER OF THE BRIDE EXPLAINS THE FACTS
Think of marriage as a lavish
package you are given
on your wedding day.
It arrives, all radiant
gift-wrap and breath-taking
ribbon and bow,
and is so extravagantly
gorgeous you may wish
it would stay that way.
It takes time to unwrap.
You’re meticulous in trying
to not pull it to pieces.
When you finally finish
with externals, you notice
some assembly is required.
The directions are in disarray
with too much left unsaid
or jumbled, with loose parts.
It’ll take a long while, maybe
a lifetime, to piece together
using the specific ingredients
you were given and very well
might not resemble what
you intended in the first place.
But remember it is a present,
bestowed with the best
intentions, as love always is.
IN THE KITCHEN WITH SOUP
On the stove, in her cobalt-blue stockpot,
she’s combined items for an untested
recipe from a region she’s never visited
except by initiatives in the kitchen
where a simmering pot can incite dreams
of travel to a distant taverna or brasserie.
She’s read of an ancient Roman recipe
for a soup of faro, fava beans, chickpeas,
with onions, garlic, lard and greens
and that Leonardo loved minestrone soup,
while, for long voyages, Casanova advised,
pocket soup (boiled-down, dried broth).
Even Melville endorsed cooking soup
and recorded individual ingredients
of a “surpassingly excellent” chowder.
The mixture percolating on the stove
fills her cramped kitchen with warmth
and succulent aromas. She’s happy
with the slow process that soup imposes,
an ancient ritual that translates patience
into more than mere nourishment.
Lenny Lianne is the author of four books of poetry, most recently THE ABCs OF MEMORY (reissued by Unicorn Bay Press). She holds an MFA from George Mason University in Poetry and has taught various poetry workshops on both coasts. Recently, one of her poems was chosen by Dorianne Laux as a finalist for the 2022 Steve Kowit Poetry Prize. She lives in Arizona.
FIRST HE DUG A HOLE
He’d fantasized about a future, full
of red roses along an east-facing
fence—with one new bush added
each anniversary and birthday.
And he planned to highlight
this link between love and roses
by quoting the poet Robert Burns:
“O my luv is like a red, red rose”
but from the outset, on his initial
trip to the neighborhood nursery,
he’d hit upon the hard truth
of red roses called Comanche,
Chrysler Imperial and Mister Lincoln.
So he switched to pink roses,
preferring the passion in their names.
And, oh, their names!
Duet, Bewitched, Spellbinder,
Talisman, Touch of Class,
Cuddles, Little Darling, Angel Face,
Celestial, Eden and Cherish.
He started out with First Love,
which promised pearly pink buds.
First he dug a hole, assayed it
for drainage and amended
the dirt with compost, peat
moss and potting soil—all
of which were depicted in his
new how-to manual on roses.
He turned meticulous with his
measurements so the roots
were at the proper depth and
the bud union, two inches above
the soil level, as the manual stated,
(to protect it from a late cold snap).
Lastly, soaking the newly-arrived
plant with ample water,
he stepped back to admire this
lonesome rose bush and,
like the creator of another Eden,
he deemed it right and good.
With its old lapis-blue borders and motif,
she cherishes the china passed down to her,
each plate carrying her back to Grandmother
washing them with loving hands,
hands that caressed her small head and face
at bedtimes on those weekend visits.
Some nights when they set the table together
and, at other times, before she fell asleep,
she’d hear the legend of the two lovers
in the Blue Willow pattern: a princess
and her father’s closest servant, in love,
(though he’s certainly below her station),
escaping over the humpbacked bridge,
the furious father in close pursuit.
Somehow that was never clear to her
from the picture, the two slipped away
on the indigo boat (which looked to be
not near enough to the wooden bridge
to be of any use). And her grandmother,
to steer clear of scaring the girl and
haunting her with savage nightmares,
avoided all the ugly details how
the two were turned into lovely doves
by rounding off the fable with the old
ditty that began “Two birds flying
high” and concluded at the crooked fence.
Of that blue and bone-white world of lovers,
the finialed fence was the girl’s favorite.
A rich man’s grand fence, she’d say
with a sigh rife with jealousy, as though
their family’s prosaic chain-link fence
fell short of gorgeous refinements.
Now, grown up, each evening, as she sets
one plate for him and one for her,
she notes the joyous delight
that both of them, lovers, embrace.