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how the light

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Broadside

schneider-moser

Pat's poem, Barry Moser's illustration. Proceeds to AWA outreach. For the text of the poem, click here.

To hear Pat read the poem, click here.

Or go straight to the bookstore.

Pat reading her poems

Listen to Pat read her poem: “About, Among Other Things, God”

ABOUT, AMONG OTHER THINGS, GOD

Come.
The primrose blooms in the garden.
The mourning dove calls in the sycamore tree.
Rain on the sill of the window,
sounds of every kind of weather
are sweet in this old house.
Come.

In the pantry, jars of beans,
lentils, sunflower seeds. Sesame. Jars
of preserves, small cans
of spices stand in rows.

It is here.

A woman stands in the doorway
and calls. Her apron bleached from washings
and from hanging in the sun. Behind her,
through the doorway, the house
is dark and cool, and the word
that she calls into the late afternoon,
into the shadows gathering under the lilacs,
into the long, long shadow of the sycamore tree
is come.
Come home.

— Pat Schneider

Listen to Pat read her poem: “The Grandmother”

THE GRANDMOTHER

Listen to Pat read her poem: “Instructions for the Journey”

INSTRUCTIONS FOR THE JOURNEY

The self you leave behind
is only a skin you have outgrown.
Don’t grieve for it.
Look to the wet, raw, unfinished
self, the one you are becoming.
The world, too, sheds its skin:
politicians, cataclysms, ordinary days.
It’s easy to lose this tenderly
unfolding moment. Look for it
as if it were the first green blade
after a long winter. Listen for it
as if it were the first clear tone
in a place where dawn is heralded by bells.

And if all that fails,
wash your own dishes.
Rinse them.
Stand in your kitchen at your sink.
Let cold water run between your fingers.
Feel it.

 
Listen to Pat read her poem: “What I Want to Say”
 

 
WHAT I WANT TO SAY

Well, I was playing, see,
in the shadow of the tabernacle.
I was decorating mud pies
with little brown balls
I found scattered on the ground
like nuts, or berries.
Until some big boy came walking by
and laughed. “Hey,
don’t you know you’re puttin’ goat doo
on your mud pies? I bet
you’re gonna eat ’em, too!”

That day I made a major error
in my creative life.

What I want to say is this:
I liked those little balls
on my mud pies. I was a sculptor,
an artist, an architect. I was
making pure design in space and time.
But I quit
because a critic came along
and called it shit.

~Pat Schneider, from Another River: New and Selected Poems

 
Available from thebookstore if you’d like to get a copy of your own.

 
Listen to Pat read her poem “Truth Enough”:
 

 
TRUTH ENOUGH
 
How much hair do I have? you ask,
sitting straight upon the kitchen stool.
I circle you, cut the fine filigree
silver over your ear.

I tell you the truth: Enough.
There is an echo at the edges of the word
which is the lie: Why, love, you still
have lots and lots of hair!

I have always told you the truth.
Even when you didn’t want to know it,
not all of it, I mean, and if I had my life
to live again from the beginning, all
those choices, I might pick kindness
more, let truth alone to ripen on the tree.

But it is your hair I am cutting
on this ordinary afternoon,
and I am making love,
the circle of white on the kitchen floor
an aura. How black, how thick your hair
was! How in the steamy kitchen,
four children underfoot, grapes picked
for jelly tumbled in the collander, fruit jars
hot, baked bread sliced to steaming slabs
and everywhere outside the crimson leaves
falling — there in that confusion,
did I cut your hair?

Today the house is silent. Leaves fall,
but they do not seem to clatter
red against the gold the way they used to do.

Our children watch us delicately from portraits
on the wall. After all,
you say, how much hair do I have?

Enough, I say. I don’t want to talk.
There is an aura on the kitchen floor,
and I am making love.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
~Pat Schneider, from Another River: New and Selected Poems

 
Available from thebookstore if you’d like to get a copy of your own.
 

Listen to Pat read her poem “Going Home the Longest Way Around”:

 

 
schneider-moser
 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
GOING HOME THE LONGEST WAY AROUND,
we tell stories, build
from fragments of our lives
maps to guide us to each other.
We make collages of the way
it might have been
had it been as we remembered,
as we think perhaps it was,
tallying in our middle age
diminishing returns.
Last night the lake was still;
all along the shoreline
bright pencil marks of light, and
children in the dark canoe pleading
“Tell us scary stories.”
Fingers trailing in the water,
I said someone I loved who died
told me in a dream
to not be lonely, told me
not to ever be afraid.
And they were silent, the children,
listening to the water
lick the sides of the canoe.
It’s what we love the most
can make us most afraid, can make us
for the first time understand
how we are rocking in a dark boat on the water,
taking the long way home.
~ Pat Schneider
Another River: New and Selected Poems
Amherst Writers & Artists Press

 
________________________________
 
A broadside of this poem signed by both Barry Moser and Pat Schneider is available through the bookstore.

Proceeds go to AWA outreach.

For the text of the poem, click here.

Or go straight to the bookstore to buy a copy.

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Amherst Writers & Artists (AWA) is the organization that is carrying on the work Pat established and carried on for more than 30 years. To discover how you can write with an AWA Method Group, or become trained as an AWA facilitator, please click this link.