Poetry by Kim Ports Parsons

Golden Purslane

The seed packet promises fifty days

of golden-hued leaves among the greens,

larger and more upright in its ways

than its wild cousin, gangly and fey,

which seeds itself, stretching grayish green.

The seed packet promises fifty days

crisp and brightly flavored, swallowtails 

who pause, drift away, beetles who scurry unseen

beneath the large, upright, golden displays,

leaving spirograph designs in the loam, arrays

of hidden lives, promises of rolling in the clover, green

and lush, of salads, soups, whole picnics for days,

stir fries, stews, wine and cheese, fragrant bouquets.

Dragonflies will land, hover and sway, bright green

and larger still, upright, glinting in their way.

Fresh furrows mark a passage on the page.

To plant a seed is to know exactly what I mean:

to plant a promise, a golden packet of days,

to grow larger and more upright in your ways. 

‘Hope’ is the thing with feathers – 

The starling jumps down into the hole,

bits of brown clutched in her yellow beak.

The cheeping from below is an echo

of yearning. Once a summer storm yanked

this trunk in two. Hidden in the tangled 

growth, a wound becomes a refuge.

The gutters this side of the roof, so long

neglected, sprout seedlings which lean into

the white rail and wave, ladies at a balustrade, 

happy passengers about to embark 

on a doomed ship. This balcony floats,

tethered among the branches. Billowing

sails of leaf-printed silk, inhale and exhale, 

sunlight over shadow. No one loves 

a starling, yet she weathers the swales. 

Such a bird, each spring, commandeers the heart.

She prepares a nest and ties it fast, wants  

to set sail, to fling caution to the wind.  

She perches on the mast, and with rusty

clicks and old tin whistles, she starts to sing.

*from poem #254 by Emily Dickinson

Death in Spring

Think of the March earth as the body’s letting go.

Think of the ice melting as the last, slow breath.

Unclench. The incessant grip of winter releases 

months like years, years like dark wells.

The jaw slackens, the spine slumps. The wind and rain,

their moan and slash, are death throes.  

It’s impossible to hold back the bright cardinals

of memory gathering in the dogwood.

The painful crust softens, and all that’s frozen

morphs into a muddy dream, a vernal pool of grace.  

A vase of daffodils will sit on April’s table.  

Grasp the lowest branch, pull, then climb 

into the green and yellow sky. Blossoms, 

like shy children, will turn their faces to you. 

Poetry by Kim Ports Parsons

Kim Ports Parsons is returning to poetry after two decades. Past work appeared in publications such as Prairie Schooner and Baltimore Review. She taught writing in schools and communities for years, then worked in libraries. Now, she grows vegetables at the foot of the Shenandoahs, and writes poems once again.

About the contributor

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