Martina Reisz Newberry
It may appear
that she has a vision,
that she stares at something amazing,
something wonderful opening
in front of her.
She is watching the approach
of all her guilts and grievings.
In exact measures,
she walks slowly toward
the last damage she'll ever do.
Ordinary life beckons her
and she is happy to answer its call.
Its true she thinks
that no one ever grows up.
We only convalesce.
When it began to rain (hard, fat drops
that hung suspended for a second
before they hit the ground),
she saw it like a painting of rain
or a photograph,
each drop zoomed in on and clarified.
In the bare places that held the wind,
she knew fear and she knew
a love so entire that
its trembling could be felt
in the floorboards
and seen in the sway
of window curtains.
Because she understood
she was afraid. She thought
Fear is ok.
The person who has no fear
has never watched
the sun go down.
When comprehension played
its unkind jokes on her,
she believed it was prophesy.
Sadly it was just that.
Wordsworth offered no pity,
felt it necessary to lament
"What man has made of man..."
She giggles, Nothing ever changes,
For 37 years, St. Simeon Stylites lived
on top of a pillar. He ate only flatbread
and drank only goat’s milk.
His hands were as immaculate
as a moon.
The sovereignty of time
and age and weather
was always with him,
his faith was inviolate.
I see him smiling on his perch;
a voluptuous smile,
ideas hidden behind it.
On wind-filled days
there were probably times
when he was sick
of the whole pillared world.
Then, with the wind dying,
that particular sickness would pass
and he would be alone and content.
He knew what the world was:
everyone trying to get back
to the itinerant love of the old gods.
He knew that the world was forgetting itself
inside of dream sticks and dreams,
yet he pillared on. At night,
feral cats clawed at his home
crying out “Teach us!”
But, St. Simeon Stylites said nothing,
waited for the bomb to go off
in his box of regrets.
My friend Letty painted her door
with curling purple vines and
other plants: great green and
butter yellow eyes for blossoms.
With curling purple vines and red leaves
she painted her billowy blouses and parachute pants,
butter yellow with eyes for blossoms.
It was derangement, pure and simple:
painted billowy blouses and parachute pants
but her integrity was real, intact.
“Derangement, they said, “pure and simple.”
Pleas ignored, she posed, escaped into sleep.
Martina Reisz Newberry’s most recent book is WHERE IT GOES (Deerbrook Editions). She is also the author of LEARNING BY ROTE (Deerbrook Editions) and RUNNING LIKE A WOMAN WITH HER HAIR ON FIRE: Collected Poems (Red Hen Press)
Ms. Newberry is the winner of i.e. magazine’s Editor’s Choice Poetry Chapbook Prize for 1998: AN APPARENT, APPROACHABLE LIGHT. She is also the author of LIMA BEANS AND CITY CHICKEN: MEMORIES OF THE OPEN HEARTH—a memoir of her father, published by E.P. Dutton and Co. in 1989.
Newberry has been included in It Happened Under Cover, Ascent Aspirations’ first two hard-copy anthologies, also in the anthologies In The Company Of Women and Blessed Are These Hands. Her poems have been widely published in many literary magazines in the U.S. and
She has been awarded residencies at Yaddo Colony for the Arts, Djerassi Colony for the Arts, and at Anderson Center for Disciplinary Arts. A passionate lover of Los Angeles, Martina currently lives there with her husband, Brian, and their fur baby, Charlie T. Cat.