Marianne Szlyk is a professor of English and Reading at Montgomery College. Her poems have appeared in of/with, MacQueen’s Quinterly, Bourgeon, Beltway Poetry Quarterly, the Sligo Journal, Verse-Virtual, the Lothlorien Poetry Journal, Sheila-na-gig, Bold + italic, and Mad Swirl as well as a few anthologies such as The Forgotten River and Resurrection of a Sunflower. Her books On the Other Side of the Window and Poetry en Plein Air are available from Amazon and Bookshop. She is working on a new chapbook as well. In addition, she has led workshops where poets write tributes to both survivors of COVID-19 and those whom we have lost.
Words and Music
The pianist’s fingers drum on the keyboard. The drummer fingers her mallet, holds it above the drum skin, taps it softly. The poet’s words turn to music, dissolve without piano and drums, melt into fog over Lake St. Clair. Words and music will return just as the night returns, washing over us all, bringing us back to the sound of crickets on cool nights, humid fireflies on our lawn glimpsed as we come home from concerts in the city, all that we have now forgotten.
At the beginning of the month of birches, we stroll the edge of the man-made lake, so close to BosWash sprawl, fast fashion, and fast food grease. We keep our voices low, do not talk or laugh ruefully about the news, elections, guns that slaughter children. Birds without chicks paddle in their edge of the lake. Turtles swim further out, too far to hear us. Young people, rarer than deer in our suburbs or Arizona drought, amble past. We stop at willow oaks planted in memory of our friend’s father. We rejoice.
No Cool Drinks in Harvard Square
Turning down Brattle Street to escape triple-digit summer, I pass rows of boutiques selling rainbow rompers, shredded yoga pants for mom, and crop tops. I am looking for a place away from this blazing sun. It doesn’t have to be Herrell’s Ice Cream, its green walls the tropics I’ll never visit. I would be happy to see my Facebook friend who gives out jugs of cold water to the homeless. I would be happy to see her, to drink from a clean jug. I return to the food court where I had lunch, for I am a tourist, knowing only one place to go. I know no one in this place.