Lee Upton

 

 

(USA)

 

 

 

The Metaphor & the Simile

 

What drops from the magnolia

veined with silver

          a little well inside each petal

 

near the picnic

and inside the well

          the winding stem of a clock.

 

The woman who sees her face

in her mother’s face and doesn’t frown

          eats her lunch on this lawn.

 

The blossoms fall like sisters.

 

 

 

Portraits of Artists

 

What is it

that

makes them

celebrate

the citizens of their island,

always

their island alone and

raise

statues to their

fellow

citizens, claim loyalty,

admire

and admire and

admire?

 

While citizens of that

other

island claim how trivial their

own

lives are, as if their

days

and works must be only

soil

backhoed out of a grave.

No

annals for them,

only

for the neighboring island,

above

which they fly, their

beaks

curved to their

chests.

 

 

 

The Patterns

 

My mother took me to visit her, a friend known to be dying of cancer,

to help her pick cherries.  I couldn’t look at the woman, but then,

 

at that age, I didn’t look at adults.  We were picking cherries before

the birds picked them.  While we were on ladders I saw how,

 

among the leaves, the hanging cherries made the woman’s face

look like a dress pattern.  Then I wasn’t afraid of the woman

 

or guilty for being afraid.   After we finished, my mother’s friend

rinsed cherries for me in her kitchen.  I hope I thanked her.

 

It was years afterwards when I had the dream of the woman.

She was standing in our garage in a dress patterned with cherries.

 

It would take me more than a decade to begin to look like

the woman in the dream, to fulfill what I thought was a pattern.

 

She raised her arm, the woman on the ladder, and the pattern broke away,

and I went on picking cherries.  Later she cut out each stone for me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

____________________________________________

 

Bio Note

Lee Upton’s most recent book is Swallowing the Sea: On Writing & Ambition Boredom Purity & Secrecy (Tupelo).  A collection of her short stories, The Tao of Humiliation, is forthcoming in spring 2014 from BOA Editions.   Her poems have appeared in the New Republic, Atlantic Monthly, Poetry, American Poetry Review, and in editions of Best American Poetry.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lee_Upton

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