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Sample Poems by Madeleine Mysko

In Miniature

One must go beyond logic in order to experience what is large in what is small.
--Gaston Bachelard, The Poetics of Space

December. We take the children to visit
the train garden at the firehouse. "See"
I say, lifting the youngest high.

See the houses, the roofs glittering with snow.
See the school, the church, the stores on Main Street,
the county fair, the ski slope, the circus tent.

See the fire truck, dump truck, flatbed carrying logs,
the boy building a snowman, the mail carrier with
letter in hand, the trained bear turning in the ring.

See the man with the flag at the crossing,
the trains passing each other, going over and under-
locomotive and caboose, boxcar, coal car, milk car,

the flickering passenger car with people seated
at all the windows. See them going around the bend,
over the trestle, across the flat blue stream.

I hold my breath, as
from under the papier-mch mountain,
from out of the dark tunnel, the train emerges:

that perfect beam of light,
that piercing whistle, old mournfulness
approaching, going past me and around again.

Incipient Fireworks

Nine p.m., July the fourth. The roof,
Broadway Garage, Johns Hopkins Hospital.
Our little crowd is pressed against the rail:
employees, lots of children, and enough
patients-in wheelchairs, pushing I.V. poles-
that here, among the cars, our measures seem
extreme. A roof away, the trauma team
lights up the landing pad. A siren wails
thinly from some forsaken street below.
But we remain intent on waiting for
the dark to deepen, absolutely sure,
the weather being fair, that we will know-
any second, every one of us-
the thrill of the expected come to pass.

Hora Tertia

Daylight on the monastery walk
after the night of heavy rain,

and I consider the moonflower:
how the big spent blooms resemble
three linen tea towels rinsed and wrung out,
three yellowed towels someone meant to
pin to the line to dry.

And I consider the very air:
how yesterday's weather seems back there
in memory, but is still out there,
a heft of warmth east of here by now,
off the continent, rolling over the Atlantic
in enormous thunderheads.

And I consider this waning moon:
how thin it seems against the washed
morning sky, like an old pearl button
that's been chipped, worn smooth, but is still
securely fixed behind sheer clouds blown
by weather-though the moon, too,
is moved, and is beloved, through time.

Out of Blue

It wasn't wind or thunder: color foretold
a summer storm. The orange tiger lily,
the yellow black-eyed Susan, the pink phlox
were too much themselves in the charged light.
The trees to the west sharpened against the sky.
The sky was exaggerated, a purple hue.

I set out to gather toys from the yard
and towels from the line, but at the hedge was struck
by hydrangea blue. I felt it travel,
through me, toward the ground of a day
I couldn't quite remember, and I was left
bewildered, bereft of I didn't know what.

I had to lean into the broad leaves, to reach
deep, to snap stems until my arms
were filled with blooms big as baby bonnets.
The broken-green odor blessed the air
as I carried that crucial blue across the lawn,
and the maples blanched at the first gust of wind.