Poet's Showcase

Magnolia Tree in Kansas
By Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg

This is the tree that breaks into blossom too early each March,
killing its flowers. This is the tree that hums anyway
in its pool of fallen petals, pink as moonlight.
Not a bouquet on a stick. Not a lost mammal in the clearing
although it looks like both with its explosions
of rosy boats -- illuminated, red-edged.
Not a human thing but closer to what we might be
than the careful cedar or snakeskin sycamore.
It cries. It opens. It submits.
In the pinnacle of its stem and the pits of its fruitless fruit,
it knows how a song can break the singer.
In the brass of its wind, it sings anyway.
Tree of all breaking. Tree of all upsidedown.
Tree that hurts in its bones and doesn't care.
Tree of the first exhalation
landing and swaying, perfume and death,
all arms and no legs. Tree that never
learns to hold back.

If Endings Were Beginnings
By Philip Miller

If endings were reversed as in a mirror
and became beginnings -- the kiss
of departing lovers would come first,
then rapture: after sunset, suddenly sunrise,
and the way back home would lead
toward fresh salad days.
Toothless and wrinkled, we would grow
to wrinkled, toothless infancy,
and above us the moon would wane,
then wax, night always younger,
you more beautiful as years
would unaccumulate, dissolve,
and goblets at their dregs
would refill, sparkling to their brims,
and always before anything could run
its course, the mirror would blink back,
the loop would close,
and the return to Eden
would be by way of that wicked tree:
first slavery then freedom,
first death,
then life.

-- Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg lives in Lawrence and directs the transformative language arts program at Goddard College in Plainfield, Vt. Philip Miller lives in Kansas City, Mo. "If Endings Were Beginnings" first appeared in his book, "Branches Snapping." Both writers will read their work at 7 p.m. Friday as part of the 2004 Lawrence Poetry Series. The series will present area poets every Friday in April -- National Poetry Month -- at the Lawrence Arts Center, 940 N.H.


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