Dwelling in Delight
The more you study delight, the more delight there is to study.
Ross Gay, The Book of Delights
The majestic maple’s
shout look at me
in a way that makes it
impossible not to grin
even as some docile
like old socks,
around the ankles.
Where the house meets
the dirt, some wriggling
red worms line up
in the dappled yellow
of a new day.
This abode holds
what matters most
and ignores the barking
coming from the side yard.
Wayward joy contains
the realness of things,
but holds the kindling
lightly so oxygen can
whisper to the flame
resist — be stubborn
in your gladness.
The wind throws a fit,
but this domicile stands.
In the before now,
this home was enveloped
by clouded uncertainty.
Even when the sky sang
the lapis of a lagoon,
the discordant melody fell flat,
tumbled in one ear,
out through the lungs.
But today, this dwelling shines.
In childhood, mirth and misery
appeared as angry antonyms
on the playground and on Looney Tunes.
But they’ve always lived in the
same house, just different floors.
Even when life sings a sorrowful
song, don’t be confused.
Turn on the lights and
study delight. Do this.
While birds build nests, we write alphabets of their trees.
In skyscrapers, the steel beams, like massive twigs,
envelop and protect us in a vocabulary of shelter, place.
The hills and valleys of the metropolis create shadow,
refract the warm light like gleaming mountain lakes.
Dichotomous childhood tales of urban and rural rodents
highlight only distinctions, but I have seen sunrise-painted skies
evoke magic in the mountains and from urban balconies.
We can be lost, found, saved or forgotten everywhere we go.
Can you recall the exact tones and tunes of traffic or ocean waves,
a moment’s particular echoes and silhouettes at dusk, secrets felt
in alleys and neural paths – scents of coconut lime treats.
I have heard roosters crow in mountainous Monteverde and
in a Saigon hotel room, high up above the bustling streets.
And in half-sleep notice the newborn sunlight on my morning sheets.
All our places leave inner souvenirs – traces of coastal saltwater in our genes.
Some boroughs and bogs we can only visit again in our heads.
But a known quality of radiance can peek through in unexpected ways,
a minds-eye homecoming to a specific street, a morning in a drafty kitchen.
All those particles of ash and smog, smells of wet soil and peat
form a now of then, the cyclical motions of wash, rinse and repeat.
Was the grief worth the poem? No,
but you don’t interrogate a weed
for what it does with wreckage.
For what it’s done to get here.
To Get Here
It’s vertigo, plain and simple –
the sky spinning under my toes,
the same feet that touch
summer grass and pavement heat.
Where are you from?, they say.
We are from a house of longing, a garden
full of flowering weeds, where Persian
green, black and goldenrod meet.
Grief congeals in the lungs,
while the past coats the hips,
but it’s the shin bones that splinter
in the escape, fuse together, never quite heal.
Though you walk with a limp, the paintings
and poems rush from your fingertips.
Small shoots of caper spurge and wild carrot
emerge triumphant, weeds in name only.
It costs too much to leave the rubble,
arrive from across oceans, or even from
another side of town. From the compost pile,
improbably, roots grow toward the night sky.
Ellen Skilton’s poetry has appeared in The Dewdrop, Cathexis Northwest Press, The Scapegoat Review, Dissident Voice, Philadelphia Stories, Red Eft Review, and The Dillydoun Review. In addition to being a poet, she is an excellent napper, a chocolate snob, a swimmer, and lives in Philadelphia with Zoomer (her dog), Katniss (her cat), and some lovely humans.
The Ekphrastic Review
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