Just because I haven't posted one of my own in a while, here's "Inheritance," which is in the book that just came out. (Which I'm sure you've all bought by now, right?) And "Shepherds," one of my two big attempts at Christmas poetry. (The other one is terrible, I tell you.)
by Darlene Young
I got your jewelry, a couple of scarves and an old dress
I claimed just because it looked like you.
But familiar though the earrings are, the scarf, the dress,
the emerald pin, no matter how I squint into the past
I can't make out your face and now I fear
I never really saw it. Being a mother too,
this worries me.
But also when you died I got your books
and, reading them, I find you after all.
Your voice, your voice, with sweetest clarity,
rings through the words you chose to share with me.
And so in fear of leaving my kids motherless--
and as a feeble recompense for all the times
I sneak into their rooms at night
to beg forgiveness from their twitching eyelids
for the petty strictness of my ways--
the one thing I make sure of all my days
is that they get my voice.
Stories they will build their worlds on, stories
teaching how to yearn, tales that break
their hearts apart then knit them back
a little softer—all the words I got from you.
Your voice in mine will carry on
in their bright dreams after I'm gone.
by Darlene Young
Don't tell me about rose-cheeked Arcadian youth
gathering daisies on a hillside
piping tunes to their cloud-fluffy sheep
under the stars.
No, these were foul-smelling, lusty
men with dirty necks, greasy hands,
snorting, arguing, joke-telling, nose-picking
men--one wearing stolen
sandals (although I admit he felt
guilty about it)--gambling on who
had the best aim as they chucked rocks
at a nearby lizard.
You talk about salt of the earth—
these men were salty, alright
downright ornery, some of them,
fighting sometimes and yelling
at their wives when they were home,
which wasn't often.
Yeah, I'll grant you Dan
was an innocent
and Dave had some noble moments
and none of them was really evil
but they all had dirty fingernails
of one kind or another
when the light came--
yes, it came.
But don't take away that moment just before--
flies whining over the sheep dung
and Jake and Zeke having a
that's the key moment, you see,
in all their grimy glory;
it has to be
because the light came to me, too.