Poetry from Lola Haskins
followed by Q&A
At Twenty-two Months, Ava Launches her Poetry Career
A month ago, you pointed at the dangling Christmas colors.
Stalactites! you said.
Last week, your Daddy held you upside down.
I don’t like that, you said.
You don’t like it? No. I’m not a bat.
Last night in the bath, you pressed three damp letters to the tub wall.
C-A-T, you said. Cat!
Asked to spell dog, you put up: DGH, then said I forgot the O,
and added it: ODGH. There’s still hope.
Of Dust on a White Counter
Ava discovers she won’t be a kindergartener forever.
She collapses to the floor, her head in her hands.
The walker on the beach forgets which way between houses lies home.
The eyes belong to space
but touch is time’s, an index finger, gathering gray along its length.
—Sandhill Cranes in December
The way dawn candled their wings
as they arced down,
singly, because even birds must land alone.
The way their black legs descended
as if someone were drawing them. The silence
as they floated toward
the field. Then the cries, vast as an ocean
as far as you could hear.
Then myriads of shadows feeding in
the early light
and orange giving way to pale blue
and morning slowly come.
By noon, the water’s turned such silver
I want to put it on. I know it would
only fall back to itself or flutter off
my skin like a bird too quick to follow
but I don’t care. I want it anyway. And
I want that tangle of cattail and black rush
too, the way I want to be perpetually
waking to yet another gift, like the single
gator stretched out on the muck where
pond has begun to thicken to swamp.
Like happiness, it materialized so gradually
that I never, even for a moment, saw it coming.
Lola Haskins’s work has appeared in The Atlantic, The Christian Science Monitor, The London Review of Books, London Magazine, Georgia Review, Prairie Schooner, The New York Quarterly and elsewhere. Her ninth collection of poetry, Still, the Mountain, has just been published by Paper Kite Press. Most recently prior to that came Solutions Beginning with A, prose poems illustrated by Maggie Taylor (Modernbook), The Rim Benders (Anhinga), and Desire Lines, New and Selected Poems (BOA). Ms. Haskins’s prose works include a poetry advice book, Not Feathers Yet: A Beginner’s Guide to the Poetic Life (Backwaters) and a book of essays/stories, Fifteen Florida Cemeteries: Strange Tales Unearthed, forthcoming from the University Press of Florida. For more information, please visit her at www.lolahaskins.com.
Q: If you could create a soundtrack for your poem(s), what would it be?
A: Lots of my poems do have soundtracks because they’ve been on radio—what
they are varies widely—from Rye Cooder to jazz to new-age to Pacific
islanders to chanting to folk tunes to classical selections.
I’ve done readings over jazz too, and I’ve several times performed all of
Forty-Four Ambitions for the Piano with a composer and a pianist, using a
combination of classical and modern, more classical than modern.
I should say that I’ve been happy with all of the above.
Q: What direction do you face when you are at work on your writing?
A: I’m a monk at heart so I work facing a wall, my convenient wall faces
east—facing but not seeing the rising sun. Is that metaphoric?
Q: Opening move: Rock, paper, or scissors?
A: Rock. After that, it depends what the other person does.