Passing

The invisible line is cast across the river,
across the canyon, or the ages, obstacles
that find us as we travel dusty roads, always
searching, forever unsure. Pleasure in
windblown branches hobbled against the slant
of a craggy mountain, predicted to lose,
yet they blossom, somehow gaining strength
from light and the occasional storm.

Rain is approaching current location
and is expected within thirty minutes.

The line reaches out, centuries compelled
to forge a lineage unbroken. The invisible line.
Our heritage. We cannot see them, nor they us.
Mere black and white images painted by the
hand of a craftsman or a Brownie Instamatic.
They smile or laugh, more often
furrow brows within the frames of their lives.
History recorded in a frown, perhaps too serious
the thought of the invisible line.

Rain is falling now.

The burden remains. Casting the line is all
too frightening, creates a link in a chain that
cannot be undone. Populate. Procreate. Pass.
The cycle begs for renewal. And so we perform.
In our innocence and duty, the people perform,
create the invisible line that stretches from
one generation to another. The line sends all
our oneness to the next and the next,
on down the line.

The wind blows harder.

Never an end of the line, just a passing
of the wonderment of life, love, creation,
knowledge, laughter, responsibility, inspiration,
thoughtfulness, caring, tolerance, joy, simplicity.
Never an end. Always a new beginning.
The invisible line is not broken, merely
reflected in the crystal blue eyes of a child,
the exploration of a scientific discovery,
the digital painting of a sorrowful face.

Black clouds ahead.

Cast your line. An ocean awaits. Sandy shores
reside amongst the clouds, no matter their color
or shape. The line must be cast. Too late for
indecision. Stretch out your heart to the next
in line. Leave your trace of glory to be retold
in story after story. The blessed line.
Follow it and find the softest space in Heaven,
find those who climbed in before you.

Rain clearing by tomorrow morning.

–Victoria Emmons, May 2017


for Uncle Jim

Montana Metal

Copper glistens in deference to brilliant sunlight. It wires itself around our lives, brings ease and comfort, a combination of access and heat. Twin to the cook pot, seething atop a blue fire, transmitting a menu plan. Copper art hangs in the window, curled around like a serpent digesting amber glass balls that rearrange light on the wall.

Copper joy, copper light, copper theft for a price. Steal thirst for a century. Crush a society carved in the west out of nothing but a few battles with the locals. Copper makes friends. And enemies. A golden glow requires a good polish now and then. The favored color of an old mascot hat for the football team.

Dig. Mine. Discover. Bend. Shape. Create. A bottle of copper hair upon my head brings attention no matter what. Metal required to fend off compliments or long gazes with dangling open mouths. She is copper-colored, they say. Good or bad. Friend or foe. Better to be copper-colored than steel gray.

–Victoria Emmons, 2017

The Summit

My open window reveals
a spring snowfall on the summit,
a fog obscuring white caps that
sleep forever at the highest point.

Misty rain turns to snow rising atop
my world. Nature paints a distinct line
around the mountains, a clear delination
between elevated snowflakes and freezing rain.

The season unpredictable, as is my life.
New growth attempts to bloom,
struggles to release itself, only to be
thwarted by a late wintry mix.

My own summit turns to snow, like the mountain.
I stare not out a window, but into a mirror
to observe its unpredictable journey
atop my crown.

White strands now invade a thick forest
once chestnut brown. As the mountain evolves,
so must I. My struggle with time will not
outlive the hillsides.

–Victoria Emmons, 2017

Turning

Twenty-four hours to turn
So they say
That much time to earn
A new day

Not just any new day
I am told
This one will make me
Very old

Turnin’ sixty-five today
Must be time
To begin my play
In good rhyme

Twenty-four hours to turn
This year ’round
Makin’ what I can
‘Fore I drown

–Victoria Emmons, Copyright 2015

The Box

Thirty years
More or less
Tumble away
In an instant

Tiny red sneakers
“Left” written
On one toe
“Right” the other

White tee-shirt
Snaps at the shoulder
Easier to slip
Over a wiggly head

Matching series of
Exercise books
A backwards five
Plus a rounded six

Smiley faces on
Stick bodies stand
In a crayon land of
Perpetual rainbows

Pink, smocked dress
Hand-stitched
Seldom worn
Still like new

Stuffed kangaroo
Carries joey
In her pocket
Warm and safe

Red corduroy
Slightly faded
Suits a small jacket
Quite stylish

Tap dance costume
With twirling skirt
Missing one blue
Sequined arm band

Four letters glued
On a volleyball shirt
Spell champion
For that year

Note cards with
College logo
Embossed on fine
Paper stock

Four corners of a hat
Frame a black square
Upon which a tassel
Crowns success

My Little Ponies
In a zip-locked tomb
Emerge to neigh with
The next generation

–Victoria Emmons, copyright 2015

Inbox 

Random communiques appear,
Signal a familiar ding at all hours
To make me feel important, feel loved
In an otherwise ordinary life
Of early morning battles with my cat,
Both of us stressed over boxes.

Headlines selected daily by news editors
At The Washington Post or NBC Bay Area
Foist themselves upon me, assuring
Intelligent conversation with friends
Mourning the loss of a kind sheriff who tried
In vain to help a drowning victim.

My realtor asks about furniture, do I want any 
Of the beds laid in, chairs sat upon,
Tables eaten at by children growing into
Adulthood as their parents age in place,
Now selling out for a condo in Hawaii
And margaritas on a black sand beach.

Carly Fiorina needs my help, as do
A host of others scratching and clawing
To reach the very top of the world,
Earn the right to pin a medal on a hero
Or start a war with China, perhaps Iran, or
Unknown corners of the Earth yet to be found.

An invitation to breakfast in September when
Graduates of a Chamber Leadership Class
Offer pats on the back to neophytes
Only starting out, eager to become what
You are, what looks like success from 
Their vantage point, if they only knew.

FaceBook comments on whatever was said
That day of frivolity with photos taken in jest
And posted for all the world to see when
They should have been deleted before 
The submit button was pressed but
Could we have known the outcome.

Six clutter-busting tips to solve my problem,
Accumulation of life’s debris as it piles
High with unread copies of The Economist,
London Review of Books and Bon Appetit
Each crowding my mind for the little space left
To compete with collections of unlit candles.

Attachments carry an offer of employment 
Eagerly awaited after interviews, visits and
Proper conversations on goals and benefits,
An airplane trip away to the north where new
Friends will be made, new rooms to decorate await,
Life promises to be fulfilled or at least chronicled.

Neighbors write about a vacation to the east, so
Keep watch over their house while they are gone,
And by the way, did you get the job? Have you
Heard anything about paying for the asphalt?
Did you ever get your garage sale organized?
What did the house across the street sell for?

Contractor inquires about a check not yet received
For painting, building, repairing a bathroom,
Replacing a balcony, renewing a home to be
Lived in by someone else, except the same 
Sparrows that come back in the spring, as they
Always do along with the deer and bats.

A receipt for $3.99 to continue iCloud storage,
Small price to pay for false security that precious
Possessions will never be stolen or lost 
To thieves who lurk in CyberSpace, followed
By announcements about new data breaches
In the government and my health insurer.

Nothing in my e-mail speaks of love, no sweet
Words to arouse my sense of desire save
The Poem-A-Day from The Poetry Foundation
That graces my inbox regularly, yet today
“Enough” by Ellen Bass is about death,
But also about love of family and self.

Then love arrives electronically with two words
That ring in my ears, two simple sounds that
My brain allows me to recreate exactly as spoken
For more than 30 years, words taught over time
Part of a lesson in communication essential to life
A single key to my existence … “Hi, Mom!”

—Victoria Emmons, copyright 2015

Mother’s Day

As I get older
She fades just a little more
I try hard to remember
Try hard to find moments of love
Hugs and hearty breakfasts
Taxi duty and lessons in etiquette

I want to recall our 18 years
Together as mother and child
I try hard to remember
Her raucous laughter when
My sister made jokes about butterflies
Or the dog chewed up a pillow

I want to be in that moment
Relive my surprise birthday party
Family picnics at the zoo
Or the embarrassment of
Being 24 hours early
To a friend’s baby shower

I try hard to remember
Presents under a tree
A five-dollar bill mailed to France
To help pay for spring break
A torn hem in a wedding gown
Passed down for the ages

I try hard to remember
But my taste fades first
Cowboy cookies mailed in a neat box
Cherry pie under a sugary crust
Overcooked green beans
With bacon on the side

I try hard to remember
The smell of splattered grease on her apron
Orange rolls drizzled with white icing
A steaming cup of Folger’s instant coffee
Always instant, rarely ground
My nose no longer cooperates

I try hard to remember
Wrap my arms around her loving heart
To touch the silver watch
Too tight for her left wrist
And stop time forever
But touch is the next to go

I try hard to remember
The red lips painted on her pretty face
To match the colored fingernails
I replicate today
Her skin soft and smooth remains
A precious gift to me

I try, but it is hard to see
Unless I gaze in a mirror
Count the lines on my own face
Lines of time like hers
From laughter and tears
But my vision blurs now

I try hard to remember
Her loud wake-up calls
In early morning
As she flipped pancakes
And tried to roust the troops
Unwilling to face a new day

I listen and hear nothing
Of the countless story books
Read over and over
To an eager audience of children
And their friends always happy
To be at my house instead of theirs

I try hard to remember
Her sage advice as I stood there
On slippery courthouse steps
A marriage lost and long forgotten
A message of pride as to who I am
No matter the challenge life brings

But hearing also fades
The last to vanish

–Victoria Emmons, ©2015

Saint Tropez

Et puis un jour 
Mon cher ami 
Je serai vieille 
Et toi aussi 

Faisons l’amour 
Sous les étoiles 
Encore une fois 
Entouré par les voiles 

Parlons de nous 
Sans peur de larmes 
Mon beau visage 
Sous ton charme 

Tu m’as fait rire 
Tu te rappelles
Tu avais dansé 
Me tenant dans tes bras 

Je me rappelle 
Quand on dansait 
Dans la nuit sombre 
A Saint Tropez 

Tu m’as fait 
Me larmoyer 
Pour voir la mer 
En colère 

Mais nous chantions 
Comme toujours ensemble
Jamais en solitaire 
Nos coeurs tout proches

Embrasse-moi
Merveilleux amant 
L’un à l’autre 
Le désir est nôtre

Et ce jour-là 
Mon cher ami 
Je serai vieille 
Et toi aussi 

–Victoria Emmons © 2014


Roses

Curved bowls long erased
carry the dust of roses
too fragile to remember
their sordid past

Nestled in a heap
dry as time evaporates
from lack of care
a monument of sorts

Recalling high school dances
faded photos of happy brides
birthday parties and cakes
an oak casket size small

Each flower breathes no more
colors faded from the original
attempt at beauty until passion
renews in one, sweet scent.

–Victoria Emmons, Copyright 2015