Three Poems by Jane Yolen

Grave of William Butler Yeats, Drumcliffe, Ireland, 1972, Photograph found/posted by David Pirmann

Grave of William Butler Yeats, Drumcliffe, Ireland, 1972, Photograph found/posted by David Pirmann

Land of Miracles

The towers fell but
traveling in Sligo,
the roads winding us
green into another time,

we parked by a small,
stand of gravestones
to stretch our legs.
For a second the world rolled in.

I began to recite a poem
made of memory and horror
“Turning and turning
in the widening gyre…”

and turned myself to gesture,
to smile wanly
at my husband deep
in his own dark reverie.

Stumbling a bit
in the soft, moist ground.
I put a hand out to one gravestone
to steady me.

“Horseman pass by.”
Lightning ran its zigzag course
through my hand and arm.
Face to face with Yeats’s grave.

I considered coincidence,
serendipity, randomness,
I thought about parallels,
chance, miracles, timing, luck.

Yes, poetry matters.
Words matter.
Great buildings tumble.
But story remains.

That Glimpse

The one you caught out of the corner
of your right eye, red fox trotting
into the darkness of the barn.

The one you sort-of saw when you turned,
sudden parenthesis in an ordinary life
where a Great Gray silently carried off a stoat.

The one where you blinked twice at a flock
of turkeys on the lawn, looking as prehistoric
as their giant, feathered ancestors.

The one where you glanced down in a field
of red poppies, to see a nest of eggs
like grey and tan flowers growing in the ground.

Those glimpses are the bargain we make
with the world, a bet about miracles,
how quickly they disappear, yet stay,

memory being what we are given in exchange.

What the Stories Tell Us

If you sit weeping in the cinders
waiting to be rescued,
all you get are dirty hands,
dark smudges beneath your eyes.

If you stand handless
in the middle of a meadow,
waiting to be fed, all that happens
is you starve.

Take up the broom,
sweep your own miracles
through the dark woods
till the very dawn sings.

Reach into the water of life
with the broken ends of your arms.
Touch a curl of wave.
Grow your own silver hands.

Tears do not build a kingdom,
sweat does, though to the reader
they may look the same.
But only one will earn your freedom.

Only one will make your name.

 

From Parabola Volume 43, No. 2, “The Miraculous,” Summer 2018. This issue is available to purchase here. If you have enjoyed this piece, consider subscribing