Pat Lowery Collins is a poet, painter, and the author of many books for children and for young adults including the Reading Rainbow selection, I Am An Artist, and the recent sequel, I Am a Dancer. Her young adult novel in free verse, The Fattening Hut, won the Boston Author’s Club 2004 Julia Ward Howe Award and was a Book Sense Pick and ALA Amelia Bloomer choice. Her acclaimed historical novel, Hidden Voices: The Orphan Musicians of Venice, appeared in 2009.
A chapbook of her poems, The Quiet Woman Wakes Up Shouting, is one in a series of chapbook originals published by Folly Cove Books. The poems included here are from that volume. Pat teaches in Lesley University’s MFA program in creative writing and lives and works in Gloucester, MA. (www.patlowerycollins.com)
It is time
to harvest the light
rinsing houses, beaches, and boats
with fool’s gold,
the pink stare of windows
face of the sun.
It’s the hour
for the last tricks
of a burning alchemist –
shells made of glass,
sandcastles of bronze,
this glistening spell
as our part of the earth
turns away. Owning little
in which to collect fire
we use what we have –
the marrow of bone,
the window of eye,
an expandable heart.
* * *
Burial at Sea
One younger than the other. Both
very little girls. The older
wants to trade her seashells,
trick the smaller child
into giving up the best ones
from her plastic bag that leaks,
tiny shoots of water spouting
“just the way a boy pees,”
they agree. And they agree
the bird they’ve found is dead.
The children gather loosestrife, plant
short purple stalks that point into the sky
and form a circle all around the carcass,
the brittle bones and matted feathers
of a herring gull, washed
high by a moon tide.
They pile up bits of driftwood,
sea glass, small smooth stones.
The older child has used
the pearly lining of a mussel shell
to decorate the cairn; the younger puts
the periwinkle that she wouldn’t trade
beside the vacant eye. They sing,
their small high voices drifting up and up.