Sample Poems by Bonny Barry Sanders
I Saw a Clutch of Hatchlings Once
for Laura and Tom
I would like to be there
when the clutch of sea turtle eggs
break the crisp cells they have been stored in
for 60 days and their frontal flippers dig up
through six feet of sand, leave shredded shells
behind them, and make the sand’s surface churn
and boil. When the flat paws of their hind flippers
squeak as they drag down the beach.
I wonder what will wake them—the heat of noonday,
or the gibbous moon, heavy in her pregnancy,
hovering over the nests, warming the night to just
the right temperature, when she will guide the turtles
to the sea, hurrying them along. Or will the lights
from the homes, condos, and businesses misdirect them,
or will raccoons, dogs, foxes find them?
I saw a clutch of hatchlings once churn the sand
and sprint for the ocean. One wandered off. My niece
carried him back on track and set him waterborne.
The Turtle Patrol posted a notice: “Eggs from Nest 34
Expected to hatch July 24.” It will be the day when 100 pairs
of frontal flippers will span the sea, their new home.
I keep checking—I want to witness this marvel again,
feel the connection, when the sea accepts
another gift from the shore.
I look for evidence, fragments of memory come—
There was the effect of sun once on the wind-rippled,
moving surface of our protected cove.
Waves washing in, tide pulling out,
Wind moving over it like a brush, lights glinting
silver like millions of mica chips.
You pointed it out to me, the wonder in your eyes.
Our fishermen’s boots. The winter beach
lined with ice crystals and snow,
moon reflecting its crescent form on the wet sand, our boots
stirring up the phosphorus jellyfish—we called them—
in the shallow, icy water along the shore. Bioluminescence—
jellies, the size of one’s little fingernail. In summer
we’d see their glow at night in the water boiling up
behind the motor of our boat—sea sparkle,
single celled plankton emitting their light.
I look for more evidence, fragments of light. The fireflies
those summer nights on their journeys up
into the highest trees when I lay my head in your lap.
We counted hem together.
Yes, all the smiles that lit your face.
Not for Its Own Sake
There’s no end to tending my garden—
azaleas, pentas, impatience, begonias, ivy.
I can never say, “There, that’s it.
It’s done. I’m finished.”
Every year there’s the planting.
Every month there’s the pruning.
Every week there’s the weeding and watering.
Not that the garden doesn’t give back to me.
Not that it demands attention
for its own sake, but that its want
supplies my need—the deep-rooted
desire to nourish, to connect.
First Trip Abroad
You were happy with the peppermint tea
and chocolate biscuits we bought
at the closet-size convenience store in Soho.
We heated the tea in our electric pot,
elevated our weary feet, and pretended we were home
sipping from your great-great grandmother’s
hand-painted Limoges with green eucalyptus leaves.
After London, we headed north to pay respects
to D. H. Lawrence, the Brontës, Wordsworth.
Visited the homes of Shakespeare and Jane Austen
on the way south. Then we crossed the Channel,
touched the cold nudity of Venus de Milo,
stood with the hordes to photograph Mona Lisa.
You yawned accidently in the face
of the Winged Victory of Samothrace
then we explored the Latin Quarter & Versailles.
We left a few things to do next time
but I knew we had seen it all
when the towering iron web of the Eiffel Tower
lit the night and defined the Eternal City as it defined us
while we sipped café au lait and dined on crepes
in les Jardin des Tuileries.
I saw you were at home in the world.
When You Go to a Butterfly Aviary
Don’t go on a weekend when everyone is there.
Don’t go on a Monday when it might be closed.
Check. Go with a very quiet person or no one at all.
Go early because you might want to stay all day.
Take lunch and a book with a bright cover.
When you enter the humid tropical forest of flowers,
mist will rise and you might feel vapor embrace you slightly.
That will pass. You will hear the faint swish
of a little stream sounding like organdy skirts
of girls dancing. Beds of impatiens are bordered with rocks.
Then you might feel a small wind on your cheek.
It will be from the indigo wings of a hairstreak as it passes you.
Sit for a long time on a bench and pretend you are reading
your book. All the time you will be watching
a zebra swallowtail feeding on an apple slice.
Its wings opening and closing softly like eyelids.
Continue to sit still and pretend to read but keep watching.
A monarch might land on your book, attracted
by its color or on your sleeve, or on the visor of your cap.
Maybe on your glasses. A long-tailed skipper
might sit for a long time on your collar
and read over your shoulder. Don’t move.
You will begin to feel the faux rainforest pulling you in.
Now you’ll notice hundreds of silvery blues
down by the little stream and many varieties
resting camouflaged against branches and undersides
of leaves so they look like a leaf themselves.
Many will be high up along the screens.
Some will be hunched along branches
lined up like starlings on telegraph wires.
Others will be perched on a lily pad,
their wings folded together so they look like
a tiny fleet of sailboats. Even the rainbow
does not have so many colors as you will see from your bench.
Nothing will intrude. The sounds of the rainforest—
water rushing, mist seeping through small holes in hidden
pipes, birds chirping, rain dripping from trees—
will block out noises from the street.
Time now to pull out your sandwich, break off a corner,
set it beside you on the railing—you might have a guest.
A juicy piece of fruit can certainly bring in a colorful
common morpho. It may take a long time
to experience all this natural beauty,
but you have become unconscious of time
because you have entered a different world.
You are the guest of a fragile place of light and color.