Bio Note: An author, poet, educator, my poems have appeared in many international literary magazines, journals and anthologies, including The Fib Review, The Flatbush Review, Street Lit: Representing the Urban Landscape, the Shot Glass Journal, and the Atherton Review. My most recent poetry collections are Edges and Rags & Feathers; also, my first collection of fiction, Masques: Flash Fiction & Short Stories was published in August 2020. A Washington based author, I currently enjoy writing, turning wood, participating in “virtual” poetry readings, and fishing along the Hood Canal.
Every wrinkle tells a tale, each crease a reminder of painful and pleasurable pacts, dues paid fortune’s piper; present laugh lines become future furrows that mark quizzical moments speculating, waiting like a footman for silent answers; furtive glances into mirrors overlook contours, scars, liver spots, blemishes, when shriveled mouths mimic youthful lips forming words, elicit unexceptional memories of people, places, and things best forgotten, rationalize unkept promises as bad timing, bringing them firmly into focus where good news and ill tidings equally exact a price for experience: enduring folds freely offered in exchange for eventual anecdotes .
On first entering the Willow Glen house, I passed below Spanish archways, adobe walls, & smiled at the comforting smell of old people not realizing the welcoming aroma’s, a mixture of sweat, Lord Calvert, Kool cigarettes & cigar smoke. Grandma’s kitchen changed that pungent dynamic beginning at 4 PM when she began to brown whatever meat she would cook for our supper; her cast-iron frying pan sputtered grease everywhere but, on task, she seldom stopped to wipe up or clean. Fortified by heavy clip-earrings (my trademark cheap gift), Grandma always wore a hand sown cotton apron over the same white polka dot blue dress like a culinary uniform tied in a perfect bow that rested atop her corpulent rump like a Siamese cast sprawled out on freshly washed towels Wedged in ceramic jars, wooden spoons stood at attention, ready to mix her secret recipes, stir the magic ingredients; a kitchen wall exhaust fan pulling aromatic scents through the circular porthole—fragrances emanating from her oven, into night’s pitch—crafted by her clever, wrinkled hands. Grandma saved me in college from subsisting on tuna fish; when I visited, she’d prepared me an entire leg of lamb; slicing into its flesh, making X marks, she slid slim slivers of garlic, cloves, and onions; I’d leave with all leftovers (nostrils still inhaling mint jelly) & an earnest invitation to visit more often.
Birds begin to sing only minutes before dawn’s bright smile lights up early morning, creating prisms as sunrays pass through dewdrops on spiderwebs & bats fly into dark awnings, accessible attics, & open barns. Chirping seems to simultaneously cease as if a conductor clued-in all feathered friends the appropriate time to feed on worms that gather in garden dirt and uncut lawns, to enjoy a brief respite from saturated soil. From daybreak unbound until midnight’s edge, nature’s rituals continue, creatures consummate circadian habits & share adventurous moments as the master weaving spider, Arachne, extends artistic masterpieces, persevering ‘til tomorrow.
©2020 Sterling Warner
Editor's Note: If this poem(s) moves you please consider writing to the author (email address above) to tell him or her. You might say what it is about the poem that moves you. Writing to the author is the beginning of community at Verse Virtual. It is very important. -JL