Winter 2009 - THE POTOMAC

Two Poems
   Miriam Stanley

Barely Harvest (Song of Ruth)


She is uprooted,
possessions blow away,
the son, father
peeled off.
She drifts with dust in the roads off Moab.
The mother-in-law sleeps in front.
A cart with linen is all they have.
April roams with dogs.
Her life is winnowed.
Soon she will glean what others reject.


In the valley east of Beth Lechem, workmen wave their sickles.
Then tie sheaves out of the heart of loose stalks.
The poor walk behind,
glean the remnants in promising patches.
It is a parade of the desperate, a passage to hope;
G-d walks behind them, doesn't sing.

Soon the sheaves are gathered unto wagons rolling into the barn.
The straw burden is brought to the threshing floor.
Beth Lechem aches in sleep.
The hills of Judah are lush and breathing.


The labels sewn like saddles to asses.
She travels on them, eats dried dates, she is
in the wheel from old to new.

Chemosh is a god she throws behind.
Kir Haresh is a forgotten city.
She is no longer the pagan from an enemy land;
she is the immigrant in love with modesty.

Only a man can complete her.
And even then, he must provide her with child.


Does she think about tile,
the finery, the silver she once had?
Does she thing about Orpah, her best friend back home?
Does she remember the the soft feet of royalty?
Now, she's on the threshing floor, talking to a local man,
taking the final step in the harvest of her life,
he says, "Maybe",
he "...has to think about it."
She curls up in the stone of waiting,
she is barely ripe


Pocked like a widow from the Middle Ages.
It hides the rotten wood†on the concrete.
Gashes and bumps break the grain of
fake maple.
Each evening I scrub the bent corners.

Some days I dream of laminate, the
smooth planks snapping together, weaving
beauty out of†despair.

Property is for sale;†I have mastered want.

Scratches mark my studio basement, the
cabinets are from 1960,
there's a tile missing next to the stained
futon, dust claws the bed, chairs, and dresser;
In the synthetic life of
NY recessions, Iím sick of being a feminist,
I want to marry wall to wall

Dirty blinds of the other rentals
gape empathy.
There arenít any children.

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