From and About Weathered Steps
Weathered Steps by Joannie Kervran Stangelend "Weathered Steps is a book about all that you almost don't notice, but should."
Melinda Mueller
"Ms. Stangeland's observational skills are extraordinary and her craft is accomplished. Indeed, her pieces always sound like she's saying exactly what she wants to say. And when we have finished with them, we feel as if there were no other way."
Bart Baxter


  This first warm night of spring
  I ask my mother to stay and eat
  at the small home we'll leave soon.
  Garlic cloves, rosemary, balsamic.
  Fragrant oil, extra virgin, pairs
  with chicken. It needs time to cook

  so we sit on the narrow front stairs,
  drink red wine and talk the way mothers
  and daughters who are mothers rarely

  have a chance. These weathered
  steps have carried large moments:
  birth coming up, death carted

  down. In this liquid hour, the sun paints
  tall firs on the golf course a block beyond
  where gulls muddle before a storm front.

  A deep aroma spills from the oven.
  Sweet peppers sizzle in the pan,
  blend with the green smell of a fresh-cut lawn.

  Now the light pulls back thin.
  Dusk drops its veil over the roses,
  the scuffed porch and stories we begin
  in the doorway of our old house.


  Emerging from sleep, or the frozen daze
  of staring through the passenger-side glass,
  I startle at the strange terrain we pass
  in the Rockies' stubborn heart. A blurred gauze
  of snow has stretched September's season pale
  where folds of pines fleck these welcoming hills,
  stand like arrows in the flurries. It feels
  as though we should be out there playing, full
  of this sudden magic, this ride we caught.
  I squeeze my eyes, hope the white won't vanish
  as we drive. Old ridges call. Branches twitch
  and riffle in small wind as the sky vaults
  the shade of ice in streams, warning of fair
  weather. The truck rolls. Fine rain melts this hour.


  Constellations of poppies
  brighten a stretch
  of gold summer grass
  like fish fanning currents,

  petaled scales glinting
  in the clear waters
  of the Ligure.
  We could have missed

  the shimmering surface,
  its shifting narrative
  never the same,
  but warm stones beckoned.

  A moment, and the eye adjusts
  to movement,
  the sinuous shine.
  Then silver blooms

  in this green universe.
  Nets are hauled,
  cups filled as the sun's wake
  ebbs in the west.

  We have stumbled
  onto our catch of years,
  found each other and this wharf
  without knowing the sea

  or the moon's heavy fruit.
  We drink the sapphire sky,
  stroll toward lights
  and a meal of five senses

  as the great bear dips
  into night's dark well
  and a hunter strides home
  through fields of stars.

Copyright © 2002 by Joannie Kervran Stangeland

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