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A Song of Susan Bernhardt

Parking lot packed
around Galilee church
inside, people pressed into pews
men in ties and suits
women in hose and heels
children? surely.
not least, two tow-headed boys
who’ve lost their young mother
to the big C

They will grow up fast
in a house of men
but, for now, in church,
with the customary candles,
colorful flowers arranged at the altar
stand in contrast
to the dark dress
perhaps there was a casket
but I didn’t see

Knowing she was
well represented
I decided the congregation
didn’t need one more soul
I drove to the beach instead
to sit and look on all that blue
the place she loved so much
her spirit now mingled with
the sky and the sea

 

—Eileen Ridge
October 22, 2011

Susan Bernhardt Obit

 

 

 

========================
one of my all-time favorite fall poems

Shifting Gears

Aubrey holds the knob
the gearshift vibrates
at the top end of fourth
he smiles

I think back across the miles
visit this November scene

Orion lies on his side
a meteor crosses the night sky
Orion lies
and rises
he will be turning in my sleep
I’ll be dreaming shooting stars
while Orion lies and rises
and turns in my sleep

Venus and the moon low over the shoulder
past methane stockyards
past a house lined with Christmas lights
a red skeleton of a house
by the highway
people slow to watch a roadside accident
paper mill spews chemical steam

a gray haze hangs over the land
it’ll either be soaked
or burst to flame
then the road lowers into a valley
of diesel and eucalyptus
dippers and dipsticks
Christmas trees piled on open winter trucks
rolling toward the crescent moon

at the coldwater restroom
they're pouring black bitterness for 60 cents a cup
I stop, and go
a child of the American highway
where interstates are sacred
and we honor some crude energy
adjusting carburetors and timing chains
in idle worship

—Eileen Ridge

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Copyright Eileen T. Ridge 2006 — est. 02 Sept 06