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Mary Riser       


Three Poems

About Mary:
Mary has been my best friend since probably forever.  We tried to figure out last year when and how we became friends only to realize that we couldn't remember.  That seems only appropriate.   Mary is a poet, a school principal, teacher, mother, wife and a beautiful woman with an extraordinary mind.  Her favorite goddess is Athena. 



Crossing Over

-- Mary Riser

Reading about Odysseus’ first action
Upon returning from Hades,
Elpenor’s pyre and burial,
The floor falls away
And suspended in the classroom
Is a vision of the barrow –
Marked by his light and unwarped oar.
Standing alone on the red horizon
So alone in an alien land,
Elpenor’s oar is the guide
To crossing over.




-- Mary Riser

The English teacher speaks of men long dead
Who dreamed of the source of inspiration.

The young men listen without interest
Dreaming of their own inspirations.

She brushes chalk dust from her hands
And feels the child within her move.




-- Mary Riser

She has heard his name before.
Her husband accuses her of collecting names
And repeating them
Just to have the sound of strange words
In the ears of those she wants to impress.
But the cast iron sculpture of Lohan is from the Ming Dynasty.

What is she?
Teacher of children
Poetically inclined
Mother of children

What does she want?

She wipes her nose, slouching, propping her face with a splayed hand.
Her eyes are tired. She dawdles with her pen and rubs her eyes.
She wants to pray but doesn’t believe in god.
She wipes her nose again, sighing with self pity, and wonders why she asked the questions.

Snakes, birds, wolves, parrots – I’ve heard of them and their colors.

How can I change my life so that when I die I won’t have squandered it?

This gift of body and mind in the world, breathing, feeling heat in my toes, scratching with the pen, seeing the yellow tablet. What is this moment of life teaching? Perhaps it’s not a lesson.

She falls asleep, waiting for the death she fears. Is it to be embraced?
Does she come to sit by the sculpture of Lohan because she wants to remember his name?
Does she come because she wants to be like him, but doesn’t have the fortitude?

She is furious with God and herself
For not knowing whether or not there is a god
With whom she can be furious.

Why am I here?
What should I be doing?
Why do I think I should know?
Why do I think I should be doing something else?