Lenny Lianne

ALMOST LIKE THE DOVE

 

Outdoors, a dove,

one frantic female,

lifts her tail and

 

wildly wriggles

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.

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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.   

BLUE WILLOW

 

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.