I’ve been writing poetry off and on since I learned to read. While a student at Cal Berkeley, I primarily wrote poetry. A few years later I switched to prose and sold several short stories including a frothy thing called “Maori Style” to Cosmopolitan Magazine for the (then) staggering sum of $1,000. Fast forward to children grown and obligations met: sometime between 1990 and 1995, I returned to writing poetry on the side while still gainfully employed as a public administrator.
Fast forward again to the near present. During the years from 2006 to April 2009, as full-time care-giver to my late husband, Jack Peary, unable to write in any focused way, I kept two journals: my personal journal and a poetry journal. After Jack’s death, as part of my grieving process, I spent two years writing more than a hundred and twenty-five poems based on memory and the notebooks. That period of intense writing and remembering culminated in the publication of After Beauty in late 2011. The book contains poems of loss, yes, but also poems of celebration for all we shared during those lucky, wonderful nineteen years.
When After Beauty won first prize from Writer’s Digest as the best self-published poetry book of the year, I was motivated to create this web page to celebrate, the prize, the book, and Jack.
It is our hands
the young cannot abide.
Old faces smile,
speak the affectionate word,
sing lilting ditties
to make a small child laugh.
Old faces are forgiven
lines and veins.
Old hands, idle
in an ample lap,
shallow skinned, veined,
times spotted beasts,
these bring a shudder
to narrow shoulders,
an involuntary drawing back, ,
that fixed stare of horror
and of dread.
Yesterday I sliced the bleeding beef,
extracted fat and tendon, scraped the bone
till sense of kinship rose with those who eat
nothing born of mother, having legs.
Later, conviviality, friends and wine
erased the impulse against eating flesh.
Today I smell faint taint of blood
upon the blade I use for cutting bread
and taste meat’s juice within tomatoes’ flesh
like touch of mortal rot upon my tongue.
Flicker of pain behind the great beast’s eyes
and I’m pinned here, besotted with regret.
If poem is proper penance for that meat,
somewhere a spirit lurches to its feet.