out where there is still lowing

Eves dawn and fade into decades, decades into just-the-other-Eve,
a brook always there, flowing under the ghost of Buck's Mill here
in the valley where Jim from up on the hill comes knocking, rosy as Nick.
Jim from the old Ginn place with Leon and his teams
get up! easy! whoa!
we'd neighbor with more, if keeping up. But there is this Maybasket
she makes them in welcome, his wife, moved here, not sure what to make
of this chase and kiss rite, but what it means being able to keep it going.

Eves dawn and fade into decades 'til they can't remember the first one
Jim comes plowing down through the drifts, rosy as Nick. Maybe sheep
people. All she knows is they plant a windbreak of cedar inchlings
along the road. Patient folk, she allows on their drives by. Patient
and strong in hope and belief.

Eves pass and the seedlings stretch by feet, fill in, surprise with hints
of hedgerow, snowfence, privacy, maybe even a stockade against the
headlights off Russell Hill Road. Children get born to the valley, ride off
on buses to school, and after dimming Eve after Eve get glimpsed in caps
and gowns. They recall Leon training up his teams with graduated yokes,
the calm of their bond
gee! haw! (turn right, turn left) back and forth
by their place, proud of them working at the fair, reading and under-
standing each other like books.
Come boss! they know from their own
cattle but Leon comprehends oxen just as they read his firmness, patience,
consistency, touch, they get as much as his sounds. That goad mostly
for eye cues.
Step in! step out! back! head up! all the human vocabulary
they need to grasp, with their names and maybe a whistle signaling
a directive coming, from his overalled, downright plain words with them,
just the right volume and pitch for their keen ears. Never stops in, Leon,
always working his team down the road. Still, dimmed decades later,
they hear him and the gift of his ox-talk passing.

The vintage bridge over the river out town fails. The new one gets built.
Neighbors from outback meet on the opening walk across. He snaps,
Jim from Leon's place up on the hill, rosy as Nick, and next Eve,
through their cedars tall as people, comes knocking, giving them this
picture -- two tired peasants in their barn coats, sky falling in shaken
flakes twinkling off his sweet hay-bedding whiskers and hair and her
Old Country headscarf knotted under her Barred Rock feathers.

One Eve, she can't recollect which, Jim drives down through those iced
cedars tall as their house, knocking, rosy as Nick, pounds of books in
his mitts, half a peck easy. A grand matched pair, volumes 1 and 2 of
A New Library of Poetry And Song edited by William Cullen Bryant,
Illustrated, Memorial Edition - Revised And Enlarged
, Copyright 1870
and '77 and 1880 and '83. Every Eve since, she's wished she could shoe
up that hill again, to their
Cedarmere (like Bryant's), knocking, rosy
(with luck), as Mrs. Nick, to show them how she's loved these books
the colors of dried clover and brass chain and their elegant company
stalled by her daybed with their steel portraits of the so-called Best
Poets, English, Scottish, Irish, and American, including translations
from the German, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Persian, Latin, Greek,
Etc.; full-page engravings of their stately homes, libraries, and desks;
lively black silhouette figures symbolic of the section titles; and
of the handwriting of the celebrated poets. How she's studied
this generosity. This gathering of the once-deemed best poems in our
language as nearly as possible, the once-thought choicest and most
complete general collection yet published (more than 2,000 representing
more than seven hundred authors).

How she's enjoyed this classification: Childhood and Youth, The
Affections, Sorrow and Adversity, Religion, Nature, Peace and War,
Temperance and Labor, Patriotism and Freedom, The Sea, Adventure
and Reflection, Fancy, Tragedy, and Personal. How she has loved them,
their comfort, and humor (particularly the milkmaid jokes), laughing
how outlandishly she could be portrayed if picked (laughing) for a
compilation of this kind of Maine poets. Engraved in her flannel gown
in their winter room with the blankets at the doors and the galvanized
pail of trash for kindling by the fire and her folding card table for sewing
and writing at and the area rug with the curled lip she keeps flattening
with bricks on a wet cloth so they won't trip. Old-fashioned rabbit ears
tipped with foil balancing on the tier of grandmother baskets on their
obsolete t.v. not that they don't have treasures (counting these baskets).
There is, after all, that mincemeat cooling on the porch and something
else few have anymore. The Wilson, Clement, and Gross families still
keeping cattle up and down the road in their latter-day barns.
And their distinguished lowing breaths on the air, any holy or ordinary
Eve or Day, make her cry.

Patricia Ranzoni lives in Bucksport, Maine. Her collections include Hibernaculum, Settling, From Here, and Only Human: Poems from the Atlantic Flyway, among others.
By Patricia Ranzoni
A Parallel Uni-Verse
This harder Christmas, a slighter than usual shelf.
Merely one batch of his wild blueberries jelled and wax-sealed.
Aside from barely half as many pickles this year, just four
scant jars for flavoring winter's needs beam full and ready.

Fall's last ripe unpoisoned pear, floating, whole, in a Ball pint
of summer's last spirits, what family brought, topping it off
drop by drop. Maybe for brandy.

A two-ounce honey-brown vial that could be Alice's
"Drink Me" potion concentrating the essence of a vanilla pod
I've cracked, scraped, and soaked, that its seeds and bouquet
be drawn into vodka for baked goods.

A little four-ounce squared off bottle, amber, half heaped
with oval almonds I fresh-crushed for their oil and perfume
I am pulling out by shaking often enough in their liquor bath.

A flattish, clear-glass flask, maybe eight ounces at most,
all the better to see my lemon peels extended this way, too,
so much I cook calling for their nature, especially
anything Yankee with molasses or bello cibo ancestrale.

My wish for you this time is the thought of these
feeding your hungry mind. Their scents on your air,
lethally cold or luckily warm. Their dream
of pleasure or comfort to go with yours, however far.
However wounded or afraid, lonely, grief-weighed
or not. However oppressed or safe
whether here or in The Holy Land. Privileged or poor,
however hobbled and happy, gladdening
my tripping and falling wonderland. My touch,
handing what I am making of it to you.

Patricia Ranzoni lives in Bucksport, Maine. Her collections include Bedding Vows, Hibernaculum, Settling, From Here, and Only Human: Poems from the Atlantic Flyway, among others.
By Patricia Ranzoni
Cape Rosier. Land's end.
Numbing cold (goes without
saying). I'll be damned
if these winds (
are not having their way
with the ocean. Waves surging
back and back (not in)
against the tide I mean).
Never seen the likes of it, you?
This tidal pool shaking
under windflaws, one thing,
but waves rolling out
instead of forward what do you
make of it? As if, always there
for the shore, the sea today
is being loved in return.

Patricia Ranzoni lives in Bucksport, Maine. This poem is from her collection Hibernaculum and Other North-Natured Poems. Her most recent book is Bedding Vows,
(Old Norse for windows, before glass)
By Patricia Ranzoni
From the dock, squinting in August’s last shine,
loons, kayaks, and problems are the same size.
All floating as if to slow summer’s leave.

Along the cove, car doors bang behind 5 generations.
Elders who used to walk here to swim as children,
returning with theirs, theirs, and theirs in arms or running
to the water with tubes for one more carefree chance.

Around the point New Yorkers play.

But the new owners of the next camp over are back
in Kansas, leaving echoes of painting and tossing logs
on the fire spraying sparks, splashing off the rocks
and laughing. How they’ll come earlier next year,
stay longer, maybe through fall. Out in Salina,
their neighbors hear the same through the shrubs.

But the turtles, with luck, are sure to be where they’re
expected to be, when. Summer after summer, freeze
after freeze, thaw by thaw. They are larger than life,
even the hand size they are, to those adoring them
slipping off the boggy log sensing human invaders
appearing huge through watery eyes and depths,
loud and dangerous even if not, so many are.

The last of the pond lilies for all the world Mexicano
hair flowers, Tristan’s vision, for this year’s American
Folk Fest from upriver over WERU, “cheering
our immigrant brothers and sisters” under sky-high jets
and their trails leaving Bangor International, tinier than
our shore dragonflies going nowhere but where they’ll die

Patricia Ranzoni lives in Bucksport, Maine. Her collections include Hibernaculum, Settling, From Here, and Only Human: Poems from the Atlantic Flyway, among others.
from a mountain pond
By Patricia Ranzoni
after “Papermaker” by Monica Wood, premiered by Portland Stage Co., May 2015

Papermakers, please stand.
The playwright wants you to take a bow.
She has put your story on the stage.
From all over we’ve come to see.

The playwright invites you to take a bow.
Trembling, being papermaking families
from all over come to see,
we shudder to the shocking roar.

Trembling, being papermaking families,
alert to the ear-hurting sound effects,
we shudder to the shocking roar
she took the actors to her town’s mill to hear.

Alert to the ear-hurting sound effects –
recorded papermachines with the deafening reel
she took the actors to her town’s mill to hear real
you know what it is and how it makes you feel.

Recorded papermachines with their deafening reel –
no wonder the audience wants you to stand.
You know what it is and how it makes you feel –
the fear, pride, strikes, jokes, pain.

No wonder the audience wants you to stand
being the last of our kind. Beribboned,
(knowing the fear, pride, strikes, jokes, pain)
I gave her our “Farewell Force” in your names.

Being the last of our kind, beribboned,
she called it “beautiful ode to the Bucksport mill”
(our “Farewell Force” poem written in your names)
and read it to the cast after the show.

“Beautiful,” she wrote, “all extremely moved.”
“Stunning, the incantatory nature of all those jobs...”
(she read aloud to the cast after the show).
So, Papermakers, won’t you please stand?
She has put your story on the stage.

This poem is set to appear in STILL MILL, Poems, Stories & Songs of Making Paper at Bucksport, Maine 1930 – 2014 soon to be released by North Country Press. Patricia Ranzoni lives in Bucksport, Maine. Her collections include Bedding Vows, Hibernaculum, Settling, From Here, and Only Human: Poems from the Atlantic Flyway, among others.
a pantoum variations
By Patricia Ranzoni