Marianne Szlyk (Western Voices 2023)

Bio: Marianne Szlyk lives on the east coast but has dreams about what could have been out west. Her poems have appeared in various journals and anthologies including of/with, Setu, and Pure Slush's anthologies Home and 25 Miles from Home. Recently she published a chapbook Why We Never Visited the Elms with Poetry Pacific Press. Her books On the Other Side of the Window and Poetry en Plein Air are also available from Amazon and Bookshop.

When We Lived in the Desert

East coast leaves and wood houses had become dreams,
los sueños, as the guest with a steel guitar 
sang, when we lived in a cinderblock house.

Before bed, we looked to the interstate through
our spindly trees, older than the trees back home.
Once asleep, I drifted past birches, reached 

for the feel of green, so much water.  I didn’t know
what you dreamed, sometimes beside me, sometimes not.
One night I dreamed of steady rain where we were.

Birch trees protected us. For this I rejoiced.
***

The Last Mushroom Pickers

The bus driver was speaking to my husband 
about mushrooms he found in Maryland,
up past Frederick, where the state grows
mountains, one-lane roads, and small towns.
There hen of the woods flowers,

white flutter against fallen trees.
I wondered if it fluttered near us
in the lot we sometimes walk through 
past the bright green pond that breeds
rank smells and biting flies.

I’ve seen circles of mushrooms
on a neighbor’s lawn, puffballs
blossoming behind a chain link fence.
But I’ve always thought that anything
that grows here would be poisonous,

not to be touched by the last
mushroom pickers, men who wander
this part of the state, through the woods 
that remain. They hope to find 
the earthy, spicy hen of the woods,

morels, chantarelles, shaggy manes,
ink caps, even puffballs, all that
they found back home.
***

This Angel Music
After two sonatas by Scarlatti

In a world of strong scents,
this music purged the air,
made the audience believe
that the body could produce
only sweet smells

like those of the angels.
Perhaps their Heaven was scentless,
like our lives are today.
Only the aroma of roasted meat
hangs in the air, not to be purged.

Our roses have no scent.
Grass briefly mingles with gasoline
as a neighbor purges his lawn
of clover, dandelions, even
the tiny purple flowers
and wild strawberries
that hide there.

Our noses wrinkle, gorges rise
at others who dare to wear perfume
or cologne. Some of us imagine
this angel music purging the air.
***

1 comment :

  1. I enjoyed the first one the most, the Scarlatti piece was also interesting.

    ReplyDelete

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