Monday, October 6, 2014

Jeanne Murray Walker*

Jeanne Murray Walker is a poet who writes of the everyday, and yet is able to make it all brand new. Her new poetry collection is Helping the Morning: New and Selected Poems (2014, WordFarm), which draws on her previous seven poetry books. Luci Shaw has written of it, "What a world this is, that arouses a poet to write ordinary things into gifts for the spirit!" Mark Jarman has similarly said of her new book, "I have always admired Jeanne Murray Walker's gift for finding the poetry in the everyday, the song in the mundane, the epiphany in the moment..."

Walker has also recently had The Geography of Memory: A Pilgrimage through Alzheimer's appear from Center Street Books (2013). This memoir is primarily about the decade she and her sister spent, caring for their aging mother. It encourages caregivers to connect with Alzheimer's patients by knowing and recounting their past.

The following is one of the new poems in Helping the Morning.

Miniature Psalm of Complaint

You claim you've weighed the mountains
in your scales. But have you noticed smaller

chunks of the world are flaking off?
I sweep leaves from the walk. The oak,

like the mainmast of a warship, towers
above me, sending down its brown hands,

which hardly weigh a thing. So many friends
sick now. As for me? A bit of bone and hair.

My arteries ordinary as the pipes and spigots
that bring us water. Your thunder shakes my teeth.

On our hillside, your fingers of drizzle pick the final
chrysanthemums to pieces. I don't bear a grudge,

mind you, only wonder if you would step closer,
say something smaller. Back in the house,

wiping my feet, I hear a scratching. A dentist
with his pick. Or maybe a mouse. Two brilliant eyes,

cowlicky fur, in her genetic coding, years
of wiles. As she helps herself to our birdseed,

I hear her tiny breathing. Okay, I think,
okay. What she is, can't help, didn't ask for,

and is doomed to love—herself. I flick on
the porch light to keep her safe from owls.

I can almost see us from the road, our tiny house,
hanging like one last gold leaf in the oak tree.

*This is the second Kingdom Poets post about Jeanne Murray Walker: first post

Posted with permission of the poet.

Entry written by D.S. Martin. His new poetry collection, Conspiracy of Light: Poems Inspired by the Legacy of C.S. Lewis, is available from Wipf & Stock as is his earlier award-winning collection, Poiema.