What was Promised Me?
─Nothing much or everything: all depends on how you regard it.
Denise Levertov: “A South Wind”
Nothing. Born in a year of rationed cheese,
of internment camps, of fathers stationed overseas
and dying. Or was it everything? The healing sun,
the ozone scent of air before a storm,
April’s rains and May’s come-hither pheromones
luring bees to stigma, stamen, a flung seed’s promise
of next spring’s bounty? And on many abandoned,
corner lots, common milkweed, that jasmine-
scented flower, fare for the queenly monarch!
And there, climbing a cracked and splintered fence post,
wild morning glory trumpets its tenacity,
fierce in a funneled-pink and white innocence,
inspiring even a fretful child to unfurl
into a resilient, drought-resistant flower.
A Lighthouse Keeper’s Protest
─Kate McDougal was lighthouse keeper at Mare Island Light Station, California, from 1881 to 1916
A widow, sir, I’m insulted by your careless chide─
pppppto who do you think I belong? To this sea of green,
the light’s hungry flame? To rogue waves, to the rising tide
pppppto capriciousness of wick and kerosene?
Who owns me! Fireplace and cast iron stove, ravenous
pppppfor kindling and coal? Or my son and bonnie girls
(wildflowers struggling in this tumbling, rock-strewn world)?
pppppWhat tools have you given me, a mother of four,
to survive? A hammer, an axe, a needle? No wonder my alarm
pppppthe day Dougie lost part of an ear, and from sea- iced skin
I sculpted a handsome spare! Before you decry my situation,
pppppask who but God can heal wounds? Harness light and flame?
Who can squeeze sun through rings of glass
pppppwhen an island is foul with blizzard and squall, white-capped?
Poet Laureate emerita for the seaside town of Rockport, Massachusetts, Suellen Wedmore, has been awarded first place in the Writer’s Digest’s Rhyming Poem Contest and the digest’s Non-Rhyming Poems Contest. Her chapbook Deployed won the Grayson Press contest, her chapbook On Marriage and Other Parallel Universes was published by Finishing Line Press, and her chapbook Mind the Light was published by Quill’s Edge Press. She has been nominated for three Pushcart prizes.