by: Anne Babson
In these poems by Anne Babson, the speaker doesn’t overlay the landscape with meaning and narrative; quite the contrary, the landscape defines the way in which the author can be seen and understood. In giving up the illusion of control, she arrives at something like truth, however contradictory: “Above, I am a breathless winter sportswoman/ Down there, I am just a woman, one with errands…”
Skiing in Iran
Black wool keeps me warm. I click my boots in brackets.
Up here, no one knows it’s me. Here! I wave at you.
Keeping the scarf on my brow requires pins and pins.
My poles stab the snow. This is harder than it looks.
A push angles me downhill. I slalom, salaam.
I am Rumi’s chick pea escaped from the boiling
City. I match the black diamond slopes in my skirts.
Men can’t catch up. They cannot read my thoughts out here.
The Alborz Range muffles my complaints in white blur.
What waits below snow lines, one could almost forget.
Glasses of rose petal tea warm my hands again.
Scent of heated arguments thaws to haunt me.
I suck ice into my lungs to numb them again.
Above, I am a breathless winter sportswoman.
Down there, I am just a woman, one with errands,
A useless degree, crying toddlers, and doubt.
Subterranean Lyric #1
And I just got to tell you
I do intend
To stay closer than any friend. – Bob Dylan
Throw no bones to divine my message. Find me here, past the Shakespeare-in-the-Park
Ticket line that punctures the Great Lawn with the heels of Manhattan’s
Drama queens, past the fountain where the pudgy angel looks like a milk maid,
Surrounded by the underfed roller jockeys, past the men mid-chess on stone benches,
Past the elders tossing their baci balls in sublimation of things gone,
Past the runners running around the water and forgetting the falcon that cannot see the falconer,
Over here, beneath your blistering tarsals, still sentient. See?
I have scattered a letter in muddied leaves across grass that canopies me. I have taken tadpoles
In the tourist pond, trained them to croak one night as frogs next season in Morse code to you.
That hot dog cart rattle is a staccato imploring still that you would finally, finally hear me.
Last year’s acorns fell like folktale crumbs to where you must stroll. Yes, here, this is the patch.
Lie down on your stomach above where I have hidden, and spread your arms.
Embrace grass, one ear to the earth, and listen.
Stay an hour; you will swear you have heard me knocking.
Anne Babson’s poetry collection The White Trash Pantheon (Vox Press, 2015) and her current chapbook, Poems Under Surveillance (Finishing Line Press, 2013), are currently available in independent bookstores and on Amazon. She has been nominated for the Pushcart four times and her work has recently appeared in Iowa Review, Cider Press Review, Southampton Review, Bridges, Barrow Street, Connecticut Review, The Pikeville Review, Rio Grande Review, English Journal, New Song, The Penwood Review, Sow’s Ear, The Madison Review, Atlanta Review, Grasslands Review, WSQ, Global City Review, Comstock Review, California Quarterly, Wisconsin Review, The Red Rock Review, and many other publications. In Europe, her work has appeared in Current Accounts, Iota, Poetry Salzburg, and Nth Position.