Selected Poetry by Sharon Scholl
To Ride an Elephant
I feel how easily hips and torso
dance different dances, reach
and retreat in steady rhythm.
How my lazy legs swing, my head
nods its own pendulum.
The muscles of the grey beast back
ripple slowly side to side while huge
head sways in tempo. Lacy
frills of ears tremble with their own
I ride a rhythmic orchestra
playing a score composed over
millions of years. So long it took
to memorize, the strolling elephant
cannot change a single beat.
When grandma cooked starch
the white powder turned translucent
as the milky blue of underwater
caves. It seethed like caldara,
sending up bubbles that popped
into sudden islands.
After it cooled, she scooped a coating
on a vegetable brush and shook it
over laundered clothing with the wrist
snap and flick of bishops blessing boats.
Each article was wrapped up in itself
and clustered in a pile to soak. Tea time
on a porch swing was the perfect interval.
Sometimes, after pressing, the pale inscription
of a starch drip would remain
like a lily pad on a quiet pond,
a signature that owned her dying craft.
Usually a hot iron in a nest of steam
pressed tangles smooth,
leaving a surface glow, a fabric holiness
that testified to love's humble offices.
My Frivolity, you dubbed it - your mid-life
crisis, a convertible Capri. Aqua
like the south seas adventure
pictured in your daydreams.
You drove it carefree, top down, wind
sailing past your ears, to hail trucks,
thread cars, hold onto a straw hat
you wore to hide your bald spot.
You were a tarmac cowboy
riding herd on a field of fantasy,
a kite surfer skating the air,
a weaver of joy from a skein of life.
When the window wouldn't close
in the grip of winter, you parked the car
under a sturdy plastic tent where
neighbor cats found shelter.
Then the top wouldn't open, back window
fell out - one day it wouldn't start.
You asked the price for all these fixes.
Worn cars, worn dreams were costly.
I wish I could see you now
driving off, young and whole, into sunset
clouds, passing birds and windmills
on your way to the south seas.
When I consider this day
that marks seconds by rain
drips on a skylight
cloud banks shifting
like a slow time-lapsed
film of undulating veils
I wonder how awareness
stretches, thins out to hours
without memorable impressions.
Some things defy observation -
processes of blood, digestion,
circuitry of thought
the old cerebellum ticking
away as though it had
Earth forces also work invisibly
pushing up the Hindu-Kush
mountain range inch over inch
by plate tectonics, pressing
like this moment leans against
moments already borrowing tomorrow.