Shatter at Sand Pond
That strange night, the last Sunday of September Halloween in the cool air, the candle burning in the freshly carved pumpkin the campfire wild with wood while the night animals journeyed by on their paths behind the trees. How dare you choose the peace of this place move here, move in, move us-- only to shatter that peace and scatter our thoughts hold them captive, wondering why, over and over involuntarily while washing the dishes walking the dog, trying to work unable to think of anything else but you. What about the refrigerator full of food, the calendar full of things to do? You must have had some hope somewhere. The early morning walks to the pond, stopping in to chat about how lovely it is here how happy you are here. You’re a liar, or a coward or both, or neither and we’ll never know. How dare you cast your shade across my peace, where I too chose this place--moved here and moved in, arms open to the magic of the Maine woods-- and I am not forgetting the pain you must have been feeling, the deep despair the complete absence of hope for you to neatly pack up and label the boxes of your life what would go to who, write a detailed note of instruction, and obligatory vague apology and then do that deed, no mistakes this time inexplicably altering the lives of us all. Shatter at Sand Pond on a Sunday night in September the glass that fell and scattered its shards at the moment your light closed out up the hill your shadow passing through and across us all, until we find our individual ways out from under to take back our peace and this place from the darkness that won Until I ask Who were you? Until I say How dare you?? Until I yell Fuck you! Until I cry I’m so sorry. Until I let go of ever understanding anything and just hope, with all my heart that the friend I’ll never know is finally where you wanted to go.
The Root Cellar
Deep in the dirt are the veins of my family tree winding their way through the cool of the earth-- reaching long for the occupied shore traveling north to seed the rich New England soil. My eventual grandfather, the first step of his buckled boot onto the land his sons would steal-- the sick of the journey still piercing his nostrils and the thirst for drink, deep in his dry throat. So small on that big sea he came, carried forward upon the waves sloshing across the bow-- to infect this new world with rule and riches, and scabs of his own rejection to sire the birth of the new oppressors. Tied tight in the tangle of these inherited roots are the blessing and the curse-- as acrid as the fermented cider beneath the stair and as serious as the potatoes sitting silent in their bin. I breathe deep against the pull and pain with the strain across my small back-- carrying the burden of the beast in my blood and my heart too heavy on my pounding head. The three oldest professions have helped my people survive: the farmers, the carpenters and the courtesan-- working the rolling fields, measuring and building their barns reciting verse to her suitors in the city. Sweet Dory Doyen still took the helm from the arrogance of the owners and the privilege of their wealth-- pleasuring them with words and wit and more until The Murder of Helen Jewett took her tongue. Her truth washes high upon my shore and into my seaside home-- underneath the door and down the worn wooden stairs to the hard cool floor of the root cellar. Her blood seeps dark into the dirt, carrying her young death into my veins while I lay quiet with her-- delivering these words like babies.
Autopsy of a Mistake
The sound of sharpening still in my ear, with this scalpel I will cut as deeply, as precisely as necessary to find the cause-- the root of this weed, this vine that grew quickly between us, without warning to strangle us from within squeezing the life suddenly from our future. The point of my scalpel breaks the skin as I cut carefully into my memory of that Saturday night conversation, those words that sped our pulse into slowing into the retreat and full stop of the ache, the anger-- our airways now constricted with this obstacle lodged tight to block our voice. The blood gently seeps to either side of the slice as I reveal the invasive vine that has spread alongside the veins from its entry point of our mouths and down our throats winding its way into Wednesday, having continued its squeeze and shaped itself into the whip that would ultimately lash us with words-- both of us crying, Stop! Please no more both oppressed, mistaking whose hand was holding the whip. Carefully and with skill I extract the weed from the body strangely extricated with ease, all in one piece, intact. The blood fills the cavity it created, alleviating the pressure caused by this foreign body, this destructive force that has invaded the wrong host. Gently I sew the incision with neat black stitches to ensure closure, protection against other contaminants, further damage-- while the whip, long since dusted for prints, returned results inconclusive. My final determination: the source of truth is not contained in these remains as I pull the sheet up over the still being, this innocent casualty at rest perhaps but not at peace, with answers still outstanding but at least, its integrity now restored. The origin of the weed, the exact path of its seed like many invasive species, impossible to track-- prevention seems the only defense against its spread while the more persistent seed of hope germinates on the horizon.
L. Meredith Chandler is a native New Englander who grew up in Maine and now splits her time between the Maine woods and the Massachusetts coast. She holds a BA in English from Adelphi University and an MA in English from the University of Rhode Island. L. Meredith has been writing poems since age 10, with themes ranging on the darker side of life around family roots to addiction to the complexities of freedom and human emotion. Her first chapbook, The Human Heart and Other Chambers, will be completed this autumn.