November 2003, #11                              
Poetry_______________________________________                                                                                                                                                         Sandy Berris                                                       

Sandra Berris was co-founder and co-editor of Whetstone Literary Magazine, 1982-2000. Her poems have appeared in many little magazines including Arts Alive, The Midwest Quarterly, Prairie Shooner, Rhino, and Willow Review. In 1996 she was awarded Prairie  Schooner's Hugh J. Luke Poetry Prize and was a finalist for the Randall Jarrell Poetry Prize. Her poem "Clock Shoe" was included in the anthology Best of Prairie Schooner (University of Nebraska Press, 2001) celebrating the magazine's 75th anniversary.



   Mother can't remember who I am,
   talks in riddles, shifts place
   and time mid-sentence.

   Her body looks the same, her face
   under a tent of tidy gray hair,
   sweet, alert, yet wild-eyed.

   Of the memories we shared
   and used to laugh about
   I have my half only.

   She thinks she's in trouble
   with her mother for staying out too late
   with a girlfriend, both long dead.
   Today when I visit Mother
   she opens the door a crack.
   She calls me aside to ask,

   "Who is that man?
   He's very nice, and I don't
   want to hurt his feelings,"

   as she points to my father,
   "but I really must have him leave now."
   They've been wed for fifty years.

   I give her that simple Alzheimer's test, the task
   of drawing a clock face with paper and pencil,
   but she ponders, "Hmm, a clock?"

   and stalls. "I could draw a violin."
   A clock sits on the table in front of her
   and she deftly draws a shoe. "A clock shoe,"

   we laugh and begin a new set of memories
   that will last her only for minutes.

                       From Prairie Schooner


   Startled by his bare foot
   hidden all these years
   beneath black socks, I look
   at my fathers bone whiteness
   standing on a dark braided rug,
   see his slender toes, their fragile
   grip on his world, and a large
   angular bunion, a secret burden
   hes pressed beneath him
   for much of eighty-five years.                                              

I wish to thank Jean Tolle for her generous help and assistance regarding this publication. G.Mesh



He has asked me to help him -
something hes never asked before -
to clip his split nail that keeps snagging,
like memory, on tiny threads.

I am motionless,
lost in the whiteness of this foot.

                   From Willow Review


At Pioneer Park I search for the giant swings
where once I flew with the eagle
and found the secrets of Indians.

I reach the chain link barrier where
an honest herd grazed on the short grass
of the plains that went forever to my young eyes.

I knew if I climbed over that ten-foot barrier
and followed the buffalo I could find
the edge of the world.

Today I see two: scraggly, dusty,
hunched over they look weak.
I turn my back and walk up the rock-imbedded hill

where a statue kneels, fanning his fire
with a metal blanket. I look skyward
for messages, but only see clouds.

                 From Midwest Quarterly


I smell onions browning

and our old white frame
house reappears like a puff
of flour dusting the air,
its gray shingled roof muted
by bright shutters added,
her solution for zest.

This night my child interrupts
as I prepare the soup.
I spill the flour, and add
too much sherry. I am startled
to hear an old woman
speak through my lips, Dont
bother me when Im cooking.

         From Midwest Quarterly   


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