TWO POEMS FROM DAYE PHILLIPPO
Snow is falling softly past the windows, no wind to drive it,
so the flakes take their time, turning, some rising a bit again
like the clouds of gnats one sees stirring by the roadside in fall.
Mother Goose preening her feathers, my father used to say
of snow like this, snow intending no harm, not blinding drivers
or the woman walking out to her mailbox on its leaning post
by the gravel road. Motherly snow, gently blanketing the garden
and house, fences and fenceposts, giving the mailbox a little
peaked cap. Blanketing also, one supposes, the white-tailed deer
we haven’t seen by the white pines for days now. Herd of nine
at last count, frisky among the fragrant, soft-needled branches,
then loping off downhill to the creek, trail into the deep woods
where I imagine them snuggled, nose to tail, sheltered together,
next spring’s fawns warm and sprouting in their bellies, fawns
waiting the way wildflowers wait to be called into the world, the way
our grandson waits, curled in his mother’s belly. Soon, spring!
A VISIT TO MY DAUGHTER IN CHARLEVOIX
I walk out of the warm house in order not to hear words,
to think my own storms, falling barometric pressures.
In the house, four grandchildren—a flurry of hands
and feet, kisses and questions—all-consuming weather.
Sand edges the narrow blacktop that edges Susan Lake.
The wet sand grits beneath my steps.
Mailboxes, loaf-shaped, bear unfamiliar names.
The houses seem random—a barn, a trailer,
a bungalow and cabins, a landscaped fieldstone—
as if the zoning board forgot to convene, or were
undecided. But no matter, the neighbors are good.
At the boat access, the thick feel of sand dragging
at my shoes is pleasant as I walk down to the water.
Anything out of the ordinary can be joy. I sit
on a cold boulder, listen until, slowly, faraway sounds
—a train horn, dogs, traffic on the highway, a crow
across the lake—make their way to me, but keep
their distance. Their reticence becomes a silence.
Wind ripples the dull gray water to the shore
in arcs. Reeds intercept the arcs, translate
them into crosshatches, until the face of the lake
resembles an old woman’s face, lined with time
and wisdom. She knows that only a few worries
actually come true, lap at the rocky overhang
of life. Most are absorbed by the shore, never
needing to have been thought. Water continues,
does not cry out, anguished, from the sand.
I nudge out the shells of three freshwater snails.
White, tiny as baby teeth, yet empty, translucent.
With one finger, I roll them in my palm, these
houses curled like question marks. Whole lives
lived in there. . . . I rise, tip the shells, weightless,
into my pocket. They nestle together in the seam.
Daye Phillippo is a graduate of Purdue University and Warren Wilson MFA for Writers. She is the recipient of a Mortarboard Fellowship and an Elizabeth George Grant for poetry. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Literary Mama, Shenandoah, Natural Bridge, and others. She teaches English at Purdue University, and lives in a creaky, old farmhouse on twenty rural acres in Indiana with her husband and their son, the youngest of their eight children.