Challenge: An elegy with fog and a metaphor

An elegy consists of pairs of verse, rhyming or not, with the first line being slightly longer than the second. Most elegies contain an element of longing. In the words of Ben H., who distributes and explains the daily poetry challenges, “… your elegy can be about anything, as long as it evokes a thing that’s irretrievably gone.”

Poet’s Note: Please, dear readers, believe me: On my dashboard in edit, my poem is a series of two-line verses with the first longer than the second. When published, the first line frequently wraps. For thirty despairing minutes, I tried to figure out how to use a smaller font, then, having better things to do with my Saturday, gave up and hoped you would imagine a flow of perfect two-line verses as you read my poem.

 

For Memorial Day and Childhood

Saturday, as I walked with friends from my 4-H group,
we heard a meadowlark’s trill.

“Listen,” our leader said, “it’s singing its song for us,
telling you Lake Shore’s a pretty little place.”

Smoldering fires twined black smoke, farmer’s fog, toward the sky,
sending our way a pungent smell, familiar since our birth:

the scent of scorched cinnamon from where our
fathers,
wielding shovels, burned their irrigation ditches clean.

On Sunday, my family scurried toward a church filled with song
as sycamore trees waved encouragement and urged us on;

through it’s open windows congregational voices soared,
singing,“Welcome, Welcome, Sabbath Morning,” with joy.

Later, Bob and I bickered lazily as we looted the garden for dinner:
baby carrots clumped with earth,

leaves of lettuce, fragile as butterfly wings,
peas to boil with new potatoes.

On Monday, Mom rinsed chipped Mason jars to be filled
with the unflagging cheerfulness of buttercups,

the curvaceousness of purple iris, the fulsome fragrance of lilacs,
and white petals of daisy surrounding small suns.

Seven miles away, the cemetery waited with gentled grass,
under the freshness of skies filled with spring light,

to receive our offered flowers, our memories,
our quiet laughter, our tearful eyes.

,

 

 

 

 

 

 

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16 thoughts on “Challenge: An elegy with fog and a metaphor

  1. This is like a treasure trove of Tuesdays…just beautiful Janet, evocative of my back road childhood, old cedar church, dusty wild blackberry and honey suckle, going to funerals until Ma found out….great love in your writing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for saying I captured childhood. I wanted to evoke our young years when we noticed the world in detail and with wonder; then I hoped the poem would help others do the same. Your comment makes me think maybe it worked.

      Like

  2. I love the way your mind works, Janet. I would never have equated fog with farmers burning their irrigation ditches.

    As for a thing that’s “irretrievably gone”—yes, your childhood may be gone, but I felt your words perfectly retrieved the past and brought it back to life.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. The memory of standing with my friends, hearing the meadow lark, seeing and smelling the cloud of smoke, and feeling a sense of security because I knew my father was there watching it is so strong that I’ve always wanted to write about it. I’m glad I was able to make it vivid for others as well.

    Like

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