width=61 height=87> Voracious Verses
Winter / Spring 2012


Stephanie Mesler


On Meeting and Parting Not So Long Ago

Not so long ago, you were a thousand miles off.
I felt you in the night, heard your voice as if in dreams.
The tendrils of your breath reached across miles and warmed me in my dark.  

Not so long ago, shyness prevented me from taking you all the way in.  
I stole glances of you, feigning interest in objects behind and beside.
When finally I looked directly into your eyes, reserve dissolved
and all I knew I knew of you was enough.

Not so long ago, you laughed when I kissed your bottom rib.  
There was nothing at all manly about the ticklish giggle you tried hard to retrieve
but once I knew your secret place, there was to be no un-knowing

Not so long ago,  dawn crept around drawn hotel room blinds.
The clatter of uneven housekeeperís cart wheels caused you to stir.
I pulled you closer, stroked your arm, whispered you back to sleep.

Not so long ago, my face nestled against your fur, 
I fought to keep tears from splashing over your belly, 
They came, unstoppable, bathing your body, wetting the sheet beneath us.
Your tears mixed with my own, assuring me it was ok to come apart before goodbye.  

Not so long ago, you kissed my palm, 
It was all you could safely reach while riding the clutch in heavy tourist traffic.  
I looked straight ahead, wondering how I could possibly return to the life that did not include you.  

Not so long ago, I left you standing at the station.
Through tinted window glass, you could not know how I trembled.
You could not see a stranger hand me a tissue to wipe tears I could not even try to hide.

Not so long ago, alone again in my dark, I reached for you.
Your laughter echoed in my mind and your embrace took me home.
In your arms, a thousand miles fell away, and I breathed you in.  

© 2012 Stephanie Mesler


My Mother's Red Shoes

Four years old, 
May West boa wrapped around my neck, 
playing dress-up.
A cartoon of grown-up lady elegance, 
black gloves up to my arm pits,
reaching for My Motherís Red Shoes  
in a clear plastic shroud at the back of her closet.

Mother calls me away,
offering silver sequined sandals.
But they are not tall
or red.
They do not satisfy.

At fourteen, 
dressing for a boy whose name is now long forgot,
striving for sophistication.
Mother-love is offered in the form of once forbidden treasure:
My Motherís Red Shoes,
Stylish in 1960, not so in Ď75.  
Thanks, but no thanks.  
Back they go, entombed, unloved, unused. 

Orphaned at forty-nine,.
Celebrating life requires dressing the corpse.
Rummaging in her closet a necessary intrusion.
Violating her privacy, 
a box containing diaries with keys and letters,
the kind written by hand, postmarked and stamped for delivery-
I find a woman whose power I never imagined:
Mother was a romantic;
Mother inspired poets;
Mother broke hearts and disrupted happy homes.

In an envelope wrapped in red ribbon,
folded between pages of verse,
a photo:
There she is, dark-eyed with gypsy curls and ruddy cheeks,
blooming on the arm of a man whose eyes match mine.
My Motherís Red Shoes on this womanís feet
tell of joy in life, abandon to love.
I can see her in the arms of this man whose eyes are blue,
dancing in My Motherís Red Shoes. 

Eulogies spoken and songs sung,
poems read and prayers offered.
In a room for private goodbyes,  
I release my tired feet from practical mournerís shoes,  
Lift the lid.
I see this is not my mother,
wearing gold lameí to meet the god in whom she did not believe.
This  decaying relic will not mind wearing black flats to the hereafter.  

I do not cry at her grave,
do not hear the final prayer, blessing, or dismissal.  
Red roses fall onto her casket.
I stand in My Motherís Red Shoes,
scanning bereaversí faces for eyes of blue.

© 2012 Stephanie Mesler

Stephanie Mesler is a poet, teacher, preacher, musician, eroticist, story-teller, playwright, actor, novelist and Mom. Currrently she lives and works in Florida, living mostly on the space coast but frequently dallying along the Gulf. Her works have been published in ,i>Ubernothing, Pillowtalk, For the Girls, Columbus Monthly, Progeny, and some others. She makes regular appearances performing her poems wherever audiences are willing to listen. Her play, Mothers' Days, was nominated for a Columbus Theater Guild Award. Her most recent book is Soul Hill Lullabies, A Poem Cycle available from Diva Press Publications. Her blog can be found here: http://apoetsprogrogress.blogspot.com/

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