Yesterday afternoon the phone rang. Oh no, another solicitor, I thought, but I answered it anyway. It was my long-time friend, poet Penelope Scambly Schott. We met 30 years ago at a writers conference led by A.R. Ammons, and despite our being from different backgrounds, hers urban (she had lived and worked in NYC and also taught at Rutgers) and mine rural, we felt drawn to each other. For years we wrote letters, shared poems, made an occasional phone call. Then Penelope moved from NJ to Portland, Oregon, where she found a welcoming literary scene and now feels that she belongs there, especially after winning the 2008 Oregon Book Award's Stafford/Hall Award for Poetry for her book, A Is for Anne: Mistress Hutchinson Disturbs the Commonwealth. This was the good news in a phone call that revolved more around the difficulties women deal with as parents age and children leave--or come back. On a bitter cold day, here was a voice on the other side of the continent making me laugh and feel connected again to poetry.
Here is a poem from her most recent book, MAY THE GENERATIONS DIE IN THE RIGHT ORDER, from Main Street Rag Press. Her poems, and her friendship, give me a different, and often mysterious, way of waking up to the world.
When I opened the box
and took out the bag
when I unfolded the top of the bag
and reached in past my wrist
when I unfurled my fingers
and poked toward the bottom of the bag
when I stroked something
that almost felt like fur
it was my dead father’s springy white hair
it was my yellow dog’s silky coat
it was the channeled mink coat of the lady
who used to live downstairs
it was the silk-lined ermine muff
from when I was a princess
it was the damp taste of my yellow pigtail
wound around a puffy red thumb
it was one howl in a chorus
on this treeless hill
it was the tufted and variegated pelt
I am sprouting in my sleep
Causes Kathryn Byer Supports
Any environmental causes to keep our Southern mountains and our planet from devastation. Conservation Trust of North Carolina Nature Conservancy ADC,com...