Poets’ Corner: Margaret Smelser
This week's feature poet is Margaret Smelser of McLouth.
I found my therapy today, in baking loaves of bread;
I stirred the batter soft and moist, I could have cried instead.
While kneading in the snowy flower, I worked away my grief.
In molding the yeasty, spongy dough, I felt a sweet relief.
I found my peace of heart today, for smelling rare perfume
Which comes from oven, warm and brown, can put my life in tune.
I felt a deep contentment, then, by evening's lamplight glow --
No one could taste the hurt I'd hid, in soft and fragrant dough.
On a Lonely Night in Winter
A bitter night, its winter still
Through heavy wraps I feel the chill.
The hours is late, my watch begun,
Long hours before the dawn will come.
The starts shine bright, I see the frost
By flashlight gleam. I count the cost
Of night watch in the weathered barn,
May God protect them both from harm.
Ah, gentle trusting heifer eyes,
So brown and limpid, she and I
Have much in common. I knew pain
And longed for day to break again.
Does this, his creature, walk the same
Dark path, and then through light again?
She labors long until the birth
To bring new life into the earth.
The hour is late, I'm weary, worn,
Then miracle, a calf is born.
A Queen's Bouquet
Perhaps I should be in disgrace.
My table's dressed with Queen Anne's Lace.
Is royal beauty much too fine
To clothe this country house of mine?
Pale purple phlox, its fragrance rare,
With snowball white, old blue jar share.
No palace equal to our home,
A haven, pleasant, ours to own.
The Queen's own lace, I don't demean,
For in my kitchen, I'm the Queen!
Memories in Brown Velvet
My Grandma's cape, so soft and worn and old,
Brown velvet, warm, the edges torn and frayed;
A treasure from the humped-back trunk upstairs,
She wore it while she gathered in the eggs.
It sheltered her from chill and rain and snow,
Beneath the cape her dress of somber gray;
For anything but brown or gray or blue
Was much too bright for Grandma's humble ways.
A sight of jam, wild plum, beneath the cloth,
And cookies for a hungry girl or boy;
Lie boiled potatoes, plain and unadorned,
The simple things were what brought Grandma joy.
How she crocheted, not laces, dainty, fine,
But rag rugs, must have made them by the score,
While piecing quilts the evenings whiled away,
Her country ways made me love Grandma more.
If she could see her great-great-grandson now
Beneath the warn brown velvet cape asleep;
Her eyes would brim with tears but she would smile,
Oh, memories like this are meant to keep.
How proud she'd be and she would say, "Old girl,"
(her favorite name for me) "He's mighty fine."
I see those work-worn hands, the plain gold ring,
And memories, like cape and trunk, are mine.
The cape belonged to Margaret Smelser's grandmother Heywood, who lived in the Tonganoxie area for many years.