SEPTEMBER: Fall for Poetry
Marilyn Zelke-Windau, Georgia Ressmeyer & Maryann Hurtt
On the Front Porch
It was a day of errands,
a day of from here to there,
of deposit and pick up,
of chores, not visits.
Driving down Monroe Street
I passed your house.
It may have been your house
or it may have been your son’s
or daughter’s house.
At 25 miles per hour in the city,
it was a quick glance.
You were seated on the front porch,
a full-facing, windowed front porch.
Your hair was neat, cut short, prim.
You had on a dark cardigan sweater,
navy blue I think, unbuttoned,
over a white Peter Pan collared blouse.
I couldn’t see your hands.
I couldn’t see your legs, your feet.
You were very still, gazing,
just gazing with a blank stare
at the outside world:
the world on Monroe Street.
Not much action on Monroe Street—
only cars passing, no pedestrians,
no school children at 11AM on a Thursday.
My thoughts of chores and errands paused.
You stayed on that porch with your quietness.
Your vacant look echoed my day
through Target, the bank drive-up window,
Piggly Wiggly, and the post office.
I deliberately retraced my route
on the way home.
Your world had broadened
because you weren’t there.
Mine had narrowed
because for me you still were.
-- Marilyn Zelke-Windau
Waiting to Sail II
Most summer mornings the wind slept in,
lay on the bay’s floor till noon or later
under a taut, reflective sheet that pleased
swimmers, water-skiers, skimmers of
rocks, but never Dad, who was a sailor.
Wherever he went near water, he made
a detour to the shoreline or causeway,
checked for breezes dimpling or rippling
the surface—signs that wind had begun
wiggling its toes nearby.
After lunch we might row unhurriedly
out to the sailboat, giving wind more time
to shake sleep off while we bailed, raised
the sails, and in other ways prepared to
We were wind’s dependents, never cursing,
only praising, and paddled out to the bay
on faith, if required, where we sat limp-
sailed until wind deigned to unchain us.
Sometimes we sang jaunty songs to put wind
in the mood to propel us along on a steady
but not overpowering breeze, which
eventually it did, at least most of the time.
We liked to heel the boat on its side, slice
and slap the waves with our hull, feel
salt-spray on our skin, and be, at least for
a few hours, as feral as wind can be
while the Old Salt—our dear old Dad,
not old at all—issued commands to loosen
or tighten the jib, duck our heads and
switch sides when he called “Hard-alee!”
Then he might lean back, look up at the
burgee and say, “This is the life”—and it
was, and continues to be, for though his
bones are now cradled in a wooden casket
underground, his spirit still sails in us.
-- Georgia Ressmeyer
Waiting to Sail, Black River Press, 2014
The Patience of Orchids
the orchid I bought you
in the Piggly Wiggly plant corner
at home it dazzled
for a little bit
then lost its purple bonanza
it sat in the south window
through all the seasons
kind of forlorn
after such auspicious beginnings
when Valentine's day
rolled around once more
I see what may be could be a bud
trying so hard
then three days after all the heart hoopla
it's 10 below 0
when I learn how to wait
never give up
-- Maryann Hurtt