Poetry by Judy Brackett Crowe

Here and There 

There has been a meteor shower in the Chelyabinsk region of Russia, 800 miles east of Moscow, with reports speaking of hundreds of people injured.  www.bbc.com/news/world  15 February 2013

Now that we’ve come through another storm—
wind-thrashed trees, frightened dogs cowering
behind sofas, hikers gone missing—we find
the afternoon hospitable, but in the Urals
the dawn sky falls, splashing into

an ice-choppy lake, and we hear the explosion,
feel the air and the ground vibrate
even here—
a frisson of fear like invisible glass shards
or someone walking on our grandmothers’

graves. There, scavengers are gathering, collecting,
measuring, will soon be hawking the poor man’s
black gold, and we will wait here for the next
explosion, trusting that Chicken Little and the Boy
Who Cried Wolf might be right, will be right,

eventually. Meanwhile along the creek
some bright greens are painting Douglas fir
fingertips, and in the thicket out back tiny buds
are tinged with the red of the berries to come,
come summer, though there may not be fruit,
or the fruit may be bug-spoiled,
or summer may not come.


The October Year

When she tells the story eons later, Persephone admits
she might have misremembered some of it,
forgotten some, made up some.
No matter, it’s her story and she’s sticking to it.

“Well, I was in The Below; you all know
how that happened,” she says. “I’d already served a few
dozen long winters with H. Not a mean man, but distant.
My husband, I suppose you could say, but
never my beloved. I was always hungry, thirsty, lonely, sad
in that place of no season.
And I’d already committed the 3 or 4 or 7 pomegranate seeds’ offense
against the Moirae, the Fates, causing the days in The Above
to shorten, cold winds to blow, snow, the dead time,
my crazed mother bereft, weeping, wandering
the earth, the whole 200 trillion frozen yards of it.

It was mid-October in The Above that most important day—
tawny and orange, soft autumn breezes, occasional drizzle,
late tomatoes and berries, apples, and, of course, pomegranates.
I couldn’t have known nor could my mother Demeter have known
that she was miles above me, directly above me,
as I came upon the pomegranate tree,
one I’d never seen before, next to some rivulet
of Acheron or Lethe (I truly cannot remember which river
was which). And that was the beginning of the new beginning.”

Knowing she should not, but could not help herself, Persephone leaned out,
reached, and one perfect globe dropped into the water, breaking open,
its creamy white channels glowing, red jewels glinting.
She stepped into the murky water, made a basket of her skirt
and gathered up that luscious red and white, sat on the bank’s cool rocks,
and ate every last juicy, sweet-sour, crunchy-seeded aril,
juice runneling up
her arms, dripping on
her tangled hair, staining
her gray gown. […]

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Time to Murder and Create

In the beginning there was no time—
gravity yes
but no left right up down
here or there
no grammar except the noun—
night day earth sea
salt heat critters people
but no Tuesday
no August.
When the verbs arrived
in some cosmic hiccup
they were to-be verbs
present tense—
the dark is
the woman is
and then another hiccup
spewed forth the action
verbs simple ones at first—
eat run mate—
which quickly led
to need to desire to wish away
to make and
—no surprise—
to the making of art and poems
and tools and guns
and to art and poems
that celebrate the tool and the gun
but not to enough time
or proper nouns
or transitive verbs
to measure the distance
from then to when
to find the beginning
to settle the gathering dark.

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Judy Brackett Crowe lives in a small town in the California foothills of the northern Sierra Nevada. She has taught creative writing and English composition and literature at Sierra College. She is a member of the Community of Writers at Squaw Valley. Her poems have appeared in Epoch, The Maine Review, Commonweal, Miramar, Subtropics, Crab Orchard Review, The Lake, Birdland Journal, The Midwest Quarterly, and elsewhere. Her poetry chapbook, Flat Water: Nebraska Poems, was published by Finishing Line Press in March 2019. (www.judybrackettcrowe.com)

“Here and There,” “The October Year,” and “Time to Murder and Create,” were runner-up in the 2019 Editor’s Reprint Award (poetry) and originally appeared in The Lake, About Place Journal, and burntdistrict, respectively.