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Join date: May 10, 2020
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Debbie West gave the Coweeta Poets an assignment to write a childhood Muse poem about themselves. Debbie then used the poems, and childhood photographs we gave her, as inspiration to create collage portraits of us, subsequently published in our collection The Red Cord. See Susan's poems and Debbie's childhood portrait of her below.


Thursday’s Child

Love is knowing the song of another’s heart, and singing it

back to them when they have forgotten it.


she sits on a stack of books

in the middle of the woods, an insect cupped

in the palm of one hand – firefly, or butterfly,

or the fascinating staghorn beetle – woods

open to rolling vistas of tall-grass prairie,

the Buffalo, the Indian, pioneer history

whispering in her inner ear. iridescence

of the starling, trillion voices

of the mockingbird . . . leaf serenades

in the trees, classical melodies swirling

in the air around her. her dolls understand her,

the stories they share in the halls of night . . .

the piano keys understand her, and the One

invisible who inspires every breath.

porches in summertime, sunshine whimsies

at the beach; Spanish moss mysteries kept

in the strong arms of live oaks. the old, old rivers

glide through her dreams; shoal dioramas, the harsh

truths of slavery. though a child, in awe

and praise of everything that exists, everything

that inhabits or could possibly inhabit this or any

other world, she has an old soul, a soul filled

with knowing. – a bit cross-eyed, she still looks up

hard days ahead, child. never forget who you are

at the stars, cobwebs on the moon –

and in the cup of her other hand, words.

Childhood, A Museology


My secret, my “real” name?

I thought it was Rose


i. Elementary


First. My first book possession: James Barrie’s Peter Pan, illustrated.


Second. Mr. Pagel and his Easter egg with pop-up chicken?


Third. Cursive letters splayed between straight and dotted lines.

Corkscrews: my first, and never again, perm.

Piano lessons. Eight-years-old birthday gift: first kitten.

Miss Mew. Purring in my lap, watching Captain Kangaroo . . .


Fourth. My first elegy. Miss Mew.


Fifth. My very first bra.


Sixth. Last day at Sheridan School. Mrs. Bartos. Mobiles

And handmade balloon globes. The scent, the feel,

Of wet newspaper strips dipped in white glue.


Seventh. At last, my first period. In fourth period. Never knew if Mr. Carlin,

Who gave me the bathroom pass I asked for, ever knew.

Longfellow. The Preamble to the Constitution.

The Gettysburg Address. Holocaust photos. “To a Wild Rose” . . .


ii. Bliss


Brick house on a brick street, the whirr-whirr

of everything passing, whistle of the train

in the witching hour, riding the rails of imagination

to fairy tale places. Safe


walking distances to schools, Antelope Park,

across from the bus stop where you could catch a bus

uptown, all by yourself. Neighborhood kids

who lived in houses with Dutch doors upstairs,

double French and stained glass down. Sunrooms

chattering with light, dining rooms where

you could pretend, and take tea.


Mothers who made cookies, invited playmates

to stay over, dip grilled cheese in tomato soup,

eat chocolate at the breakfast bar. Dickie and Barbie,

next door, who both played dolls with us;

Kathy, my first friend, from across town.

Sarah, from school. And Linda, a few years

older, next door on the other side, we all looked up to.


Redbud, back center of our grass. Home base for hide-and-seek

(under the porch? behind the garage?) Ready or not, here I come:

“It” after us, with cinnamon-ginger-nutmeg colored Spicy,

the three-legged dog. The Cohens’ husky standing upright

behind chain-link, holding hands, dancing with me. My friend

Petunia, the pot-bellied pig in a pen in a yard just beyond

our rust-jeweled rain barrel. Daddy’s flowers, beans,

tomatoes, and corn, piles of delicious leaves come autumn –

honeysuckle and wild asparagus beside the driveway hedge,

dandelions and Mother-may-I? boiled dandelion greens.

Ball-ice and honey: our snow cream in winter.

Watermelon, hot dogs, sparklers and firecrackers,

neighborhood picnics on the Fourth of July. Kathy,

in ballet purple and armlets, striking a diva pose.

Us giggling on the upstairs landing,

showing off (and not getting caught)

our naughty-naughty holes. This pudgy kid

(me) in glasses and floor-length tulle, the least pretty

of the contestants, unaccountably crowned by Dickie,

my brother, and Kent, grammar-school heartthrob,

“Miss Childhood of Memory Lane.”


The tin-roofed “sleeping porch” outside my parents’

bedroom, the breeze, pines, my cot, the tops of trees:

sleeping alone in the company of a lifetime’s

enchantment – the wind, moon and stars. And the darkness


and the scars: On my arm when a baby vaccination went bad;

on my leg when we kids were running through the Cohens’

bonus-lot stubble, where a ragged stick pierced through

and stuck in my shorts-clad flesh . . . In my mind,

spinning under the doctor’s ether; crying out

under another doctor’s sharp, cruel probe. Blindfolded,

confined, when the hospital wouldn’t let my mother

comfort me. Running outside to catch anything,

some air, when a woman went crazy to the tick-tock

of insanity on twilight zone t.v. . . . when my brother

(I thought) cheated his best friend David

and my temper pounding on his back rained blood

blood Blood


under another doctor’s sharp, cruel probe. Blindfolded,

confined, when the hospital wouldn’t let my mother

comfort me. Running outside to catch anything,

some air, when a woman went crazy to the tick-tock

of insanity on twilight zone t.v. . . . when my brother

(I thought) cheated his best friend David

and my temper pounding on his back rained blood

blood Blood


iii. Magical Kingdoms


one now the world begins soon, another womb opens delivers my

friend


two we share the same house same yard, child’s play both mothers

watch over us


three green grass calls to me I begin collecting bugs ah! sweet

mulberry


four crossed eyes, it is said are the sign of a seer you can’t tell it now


five new house black eyepatch new brother kindergarten I don’t

want to go


six winter: snow angels summer: bees sunshine picnics clover

necklaces


seven second-floor bedroom moon cedar books nests long since


writing poetry



first part written in Cullman at the Benedictine Sisters’ Retreat Center; parts 2 & 3 at home; all from a free-writing exercise at a Coweeta Poets’ retreat


Susan Luther
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