Poetry

by Marvin Payne


The Conversion of a Young Man in England: 1854

he came upon the meeting in the grove
among the leaning
green and golden oaks.
without a cloudless vision of the why
he came, and waited
in a thinning dawn—
and others like himself, he reckoned, came
and listened, taut,
beside him in the oaks,
while dawn began to thin like parting fog
among the leaves
and in the way of sky.
along the warming ground the sound arose
of waiting, like
arousing bees—young wind
sang on the warm as lark calls, thinned and drawn.
the panes of sky
went soft, and then the sun
fell dappled on the words the elder said
among the leaning
green and golden oaks

The Doll in the Barn

Stowed away in grandfather’s barn
Is a beautiful doll with hair made of yarn.
Oh, beautiful is her china face
And her dress, made of pink and white lace.
All these years up there she lay;
She long ago began to fade.
She’s been waiting for a little girl’s touch
And a little girl’s voice: “I love you so much.”
But there’s always tomorrow for dreams to come true,
For the China doll and a little girl, too.

The Nearly Perfect Evening

Snow falling in the valley,
Fire in the fireplace,
Plaid blankets,
Soft music,
Hot chocolate,
And the people I love.
Still, something’s missing.
Ah … marshmallows.

I’ve Grown

The doll I played with yesterday
Forgotten on a shelf,
I look into the mirror
At an image of myself.
The little girl I once knew well
No longer greets me there,
And yet, those eyes are still her eyes,
Her nose, her mouth, her hair.
Today a friend so dear was wed,
Remember how we’d play
At hopscotch, jacks, and paper dolls?
Wasn’t it yesterday?
But, yesterday was long ago,
Time has passed in haste,
And all the time I thought I had
I somehow have misplaced.
I glance toward the dusty doll,
I long for time now gone,
Then back into the mirror,
I’ve grown; I must go on.

Dreams

The night passes like
the tears of a candle
and leaves me full of
drip-dry dreams.
But when I’ve dreamt
a poem, all but the
aftertaste fades to
forgotten, and
remembering is like
following butterflies
with an undarned net.

The Kite

I can make
a hole in the wind
with my kite.
I can find
The bluest places
in the sky,
The best clouds.
I know why
They put them
On a string:
That way you hold
Onto everything
That’s free and easy.
And you fly—
Just standing still
You own the sky!