Tuesday, February 24, 2009


Painting by Merissa Gilbert Garrison


The narcissus bulbs
she forced in shallow
pots of stone and water,
stretch up, papery white,
in the window,
tall, slender sentinels.
Some of the weaker stems
droop over in agony
against the frosted glass
of March’s night.
The newly arrived storks
shift in their man-made
nests on the roof above her,
impersonating the souls
of the dead poets of Vilnius.
With her heart,
she listens for a whispered
word from them –
some thrilling word
to help her write,
but none will come.
Instead, she hears
the hollow rattling
of their bills clattering
far into the night.
In a few months,
the storks will lift
from her roof in a quiet hush,
catch a warm stream of air
and without a single
flap of their wings,
they will glide
all the way to the Baltic Sea.
Unable to concentrate
on words any longer
and with no lover
in the city now,
the poet will beg
the storks to take her
with them on their flight.
For her passage, she’ll promise
to speak for them,
as they have no
voices of their own.
But the storks,
afraid of losing their independence,
will refuse to take her along.
Forlorn and detached,
she will crumple page after
scribbled page, and throw them
into the blackened fireplace –
long into winter’s night,
as she waits for the skies to turn white
with the wings of the returning storks.
For her - it is not enough
to pen the poem;
she wants to breathe it.


Anonymous said...

"catch a warm stream of air
and without a single
flap of their wings,all the way to the Baltic Sea." Splendid. I like this statement in particular--the warm stream of air--ah beautiful imagery Ms. Lawson.

Karen said...

For her - it is not enough
to pen the poem;
she wants to breathe it.

I love the story of this, the sensory imagery, the mood. The storks may not take her, but I think you can fly.

Linda S. Socha said...

For her - it is not enough
to pen the poem
she wants to breathe it
Love those lines but the entire poem is splendid. ....really

sawan said...

quite complicated.. had to read it thrice :) strong emotions... :) luvly

Gordon Mason said...

Like Sawan, I had to read this over again. It is so deep in meaning, in emotion from the life and death of the narcissi through the rattling of the storks until their silent departure.


Anonymous said...

The details of the places you portray are truly exceptional. You weave a tight cloth of reality.

I'm thinking of these storks. The unspeakable knowing of life. Unspeakable because words are forever inadequate translations.

trooping with crows said...

(heavy sigh)
A brilliant, awesomely penned slice of literary heaven!
Bravo, Mom! Love the imagery of the narcissus sharing in her misery.

Catvibe said...

Storks are such magnificent creatures. So regal and sentinel. Writer's block was never expressed so eloquently. And, it seems though the storks could not carry her physically, the magic has inspired her pen after all.

K.Lawson Gilbert said...

Clay - I appreciate your kind comment. Glad you liked the imagery of the gliding storks. ;)

Karen - Thanks, as always. This one was published here in Everyday Life, a journal edited by artist, Brian Keeler from the Blue Heron Gallery.

You know I can fly, because we have flown together over the WV hills, when the moon was close and the wind was up. ;D


Linda - Your kind remark is greatly appreciated. I am always happy when you stop in! ;)


Sawan - Glad you stayed with it for so long... Thanks for your comments. Hope you will visit again, soon ;)


Gordon - I really appreciate your compliment. I guess like life - we have to read so many signs...Thank you. :)


Jason, you are so right. The storks have a language all their own - but, truly, no voices. I tried to piece together a mood here. The poet, who is at a loss for words, or has writer's block, wants to have the experience of flying with the storks so she can write a poem about it. Ironically, she tells them she will speak for them - when she is having trouble, herself, finding words for her own use. Thanks for all the good remarks. I appreciate it so much. ;D


Thanks, Riss - I know this one is special for you. It is close to my heart, too. I'll never forget reading it at the Blue Heron! Thanks for the beautiful artwork. You always interpret my work so magically! *?*


Hello Cat - your astute analysis is what I intended to portray with this poem. Yes, in showing the poet's difficulty and near impossibility of creating a poem - it comes to fruition. The poem unravels in spite of itself. Thank you for your sensitive understanding, Cat. The storks did inpsire her - and she, in turn, through the poem finally speaks for them - (whether they like it or not!) ;)

joaquin carvel said...

this is steeped in the most wonderful kind of irony - layer upon layer - i was struck particularly by the desperation of the poet,forcing flowers, forcing words, against the ease and effortlessness of the storks - as well as what has been mentioned - even the storks, roosting in man-made nests but protecting their independence - and i think one of the hardest poems in the world to write (well) is the poem about how hard it is sometimes to write a poem. this is one of the best expressions of that i've ever read.

also - do you write what she paints, or does she paint what you write? either way, it's absolutely amazing. and always beautiful.

Sarah Hina said...

March seems like the perfect month for this battle between a frozen pen and eager heart.

It is absolutely the case that we want to breathe it, too. I loved that final line. It won't be forced, unless the struggle is the inspiration after all (as Cat said so beautifully). I've been there, too.

Once again, I soared into this story, your beautifully captured mood, and didn't want it to end. But I think these storks will linger with me when my own pen runs dry again.


sawan said...

of course i would!

Dave King said...

Very warm and satisfying. Loved the way it closed.

Bob said...

Excellent! Loved it from the first word to the end... beautiful imagery and feel... really outstanding, Kaye... I love it when another poet makes me jealous, lol.

K.Lawson Gilbert said...

Joaquin - Thank you so much for that nice compliment. It means so much coming from one of my very favorite poets. Glad you liked this piece. I appreciate how you picked up on the ironies throughout. You are right, writing about writer's block is the hardest kind of poem to write. I think I have written four - beyond that, I was stymied.:)

You are so kind. Merissa and I do both. Sometimes, I pair one of her existing paintings with one of my existing poems that way neither of us had to "come up" with anything new...which is, as before mentioned, hard to do sometimes.

For A Poet In Lithuania - Merissa was good enough to create this painting for me and for Old Mossy Moon. Thank you.

K.Lawson Gilbert said...

Hi Sarah, I know you identify with "breathing" a story or poem. Breathing a poem allows me to become one with it...you live it and it becomes real in your mind - and real on paper and thus, it becomes real for the reader.

Glad you will call upon the storks on those dry days. I think they'll like that! Thank you very much!


Sawan - LOL! Good! I will be so happy to see you here anytime you visit!


David - Welcome to OMM. Glad you could stop in.

I like how you described this poem, "satisfying." What a nice compliment. Thanks.


Bob - lol - You made me laugh with that one, and proud too, I might add. What a great compliment!

p.s. - I am always envious of your work! :D


Julie said...

K, every time I read one of your poems, I think it is the most beautiful poem I've ever read. I love this one, too!! From the forced flowers in the beginning to the final crumpled paper, each image is so beautiful...and expertly placed.

I love the story with the poem, the struggle, the desire to want to breathe the words. I also love the vivid picture of the storks you have painted. Even the sounds are fantastic:

"the hollow rattling
of their bills clattering
far into the night."

This is another poem I will return to read many times.

K.Lawson Gilbert said...

Julie - You are so sweet. This poem is dear to me for many reasons. I am very happy that you like it so well.

I have always been fascinated by storks, ever since one dropped me off on my parents doorstep. - Sorry, I am giddy this evening. Sincerely, though - I have just loved them always.

Thanks, Julie - I appreciate and look forward to your down to earth and sincere comments. They make me beam.

blue possum said...

Mom, this poem is wonderful! I love the image of those sweet storks on their magnificent journey.

I was hoping last time I left a comment that I would be first to leave a comment on your next poem; that wasn't the case this time. But I am so glad to see that so many people enjoy your poetry as much as I do!

As always, this poem has moved me more than I can say. When I read the last line..."she wants to breath it"...I had to let out a great big breath; I think I was holding it the whole time!! Beautiful work, Mom!

Margaret said...

Dear K.
What a beautiful poem. While reading it my heart was full of the infinite lonesomeness of the poet. Sitting and waiting for the words to come....
"as she waits for the skies to turn white with the wings of the returning storks."
Nature can help us in so many ways.
The whole scene is magnificent, right from the drooping narcissus bulbs up to her wanting to breathe the poem.
Loved it...

K.Lawson Gilbert said...

Blue Posh Posh - thanks so much! This poem is special to us, huh?
I remember that summer we celebrated at the Fireplace. It makes me smile when I think of it. I think we are all awaiting the return of the storks - for one reason or another. Always happy to see you here, whenever it is. <3


Margaret - I appreciate your very kind comments. So happy that the poem resonated with you in a special way. Thank you very much!