Featured American Poet
Marylin Lytle BarrThe following poems are taken from Unexpected Light, Marylin Barr's new book of poetry. They are a celebration of a lifetime's living close to nature and family. Her poems are composed of closely observed objects, moments, and emotions that her readers will understand immediately, even though they may not be poets themselves.
Wonderful images fill these pages where the visual character of Marylin Barr's poetry is linked to her other talent as an artist: she "sees" intensely and makes the reader understand more and see better. To read her work is to have oneÕs own appreciation of nature and the richness of life enhanced, which is one of the genuine marks of poetry.
The Cutting BoardI watched my grandmother's flashing knife
first honed on the soapstone sharpener
slivering butternuts we'd gathered
in the first frost of an autumn eve.
Shelled as we sat by the warm log fire
sharing tales of childhood or ballads
these nuts became as kernels of life.
Some were dropped whole in sterilized jars.
Others were sent to the chopping board.
Nubbins were saved for oatmeal cookies.
The aromatic powder of nuts
swept up from the maple cutting board
topped applesauce on hot gingerbread
we ate slowly by red-eyed embers.
Now I own the hardwood chopping board.
My grandmother chopped her life away
I remember when grandfather died.
Winter GardenIn winter I plant a small seed called "hope."
Bright-hued catalogues shine in every mail.
My garden blooms though frozen to the slope
of the hill, and I know I cannot fail
with celery or salsify this year.
Cauliflower, kale, and broccoli appear
next to a throw of beets, leaves veined with blood.
There I see Brussels sprouts and garlic buds.
In the misty haze of turning pages
I dig and rake and sow, mark the long row
imagine each seed in final stages
filling trays and baskets, hot pot-au-feu
even a colorful collage, steaming
ready for the fork or winter dream.
Late Winter In The CatskillsSunset sky reflected from old snow
spreads lavender haze in maple grove.
Cold northwest winds clear winter's bleak skies
in tune with longer days, warmer sun.
At night sap freezes in the maples.
I collect covered pails, spiles, hammer
Sap thawed in warmth of winter sun drains
When night falls jugs of maple syrup
FlightCold Catskill valley
a clear transparency
through which one slim wild duck
disappearing over mountains.
A Timely AccountingPolished canning kettles now stored
out of reach on the highest shelf
announce another harvest's end.
The house garden is stripped except
for parsnips' green lace on brown earth.
Baskets of leaves cover parsley.
Rubbed potatoes are piled in dark
Sprays of dill cover cucumber
The freezer has neatly labeled
Winter nights around the table
The hours are long, the pay is short
Yes, the season has been good to us.
MortalityMy planting time over
I give Mother's picture
to her first great grandson,
getting married next fall.
When he was an infant
she stretched out to hold him
in experienced arms
Boston rocker tipping
"You are my life, my blood
my reach to distant time.
Where you go I shall go.
Your doings will be mine.
Good luck, God bless my child."
When his first pet died
Marylin Lytle Barr
Marylin Lytle Barr lives in Grahamsville, New York. Her poetry has been widely published in literary journals. Described as a twentieth century traveler in time and space, she engages the reader in her own search for "light" in exotic places she revisits in her poetry. It is a journey that begins here at home in the Catskill Mountains, the watershed of the eastern seaboard, and carries her readers far afield to discover the realities of life and existence are, finally, to be found at home.
Editor's note: These poems were chosen for this first edition of our web site as Marylin Barr's theme of nature so closely resembles the work "Nature" by Olga Kobylyanska.
Essex Press has agreed to make a limited number of copies of Unexpected Light available to bi-lingual Ukrainian poets who would like to translate Marylin Barr's work into Ukrainian. Please send brief biography and short poetry sample in English: firstname.lastname@example.org
P.O. Box 1077
South Fallsburg, NY 12779
© 2000 My Retreat
Design: © 2003 Web design company "Elinity"