Sandra Gardner

living on air

i could live on
of November
mountain air

eating it
like a
crisp, cold apple

...a congenial environment (Webster)

Even the birds went insane
in my suburban neighborhood--
they lost all sense of reality
couldn't tell night from day
shrieked to each other madly
in the pitch-black sky
and carried on all night long
till they collapsed in the sunrise,
exhausted, unable to face the day

living in the suburbs can drive you crazy--
with some, it happens quickly
"culture shock"
displaced urban dwellers
call it, soon realizing
their house-and-garden dream
is an individual nightmare,
scurry back to the anonymous insanity
of the city

with some of us, it takes a build-up
of lawn-mowings and leaf bundling,
of dodging the neighbor police shooting down
your property upkeep with their snide eyes,
of the unending vista of like houses,
each planted in its concrete driveway,
walled off from any signs of real life,
that brings us to slow despair

what happened to us: sick with longing,
we drove to a place we'd never been before--
nestled deep in the mountains
a colony of refugees from the neighbor police
and concrete gardens,
and found ourselves here--
here, in the still shadow of the tall pines,
surrounded by wild grasses and pure streams
and the neighborly company of watchful deer,
the daily blessings of the earth rain upon us
till we bed down with the stars at night,
sleeping like drunks till the new day


40 years ago
my mother left my father
rushing her 3 children
into the dead of night
hiding behind the
weak new moon
and went home
to her mother
who said:
go home, go home to him
where can you go?

20 years later
i left my children's father
sweeping my 2 children
through the dark streets
picking my way
through threads of moonlight
and went home
to my mother
who said: go home,
he's all you've got
in this world

hold on our mothers say:
you'll get hurt
you'll fall down
you'll be scared
in the dark
in the cold
with no one
to wrap you
against the night

today, my 2 daughters
go bareskinned and manless
into their years
exploring forests
slicing undergrowth
with silver daggers
stepping delicately
under the moon

About the Author

Sandra Gardner, a free-lance writer living in Woodstock, is a former writer and columnist for The New Jersey Weekly section of The New York Times and the author of four non-fiction books. Her poetry has been published in a number of little magazines, journals, and anthologies. A winner of several poetry awards, Ms. Gardner tends to write in a sometimes feminist, often mythic, and nearly always ironic vein. Two of her novels have been finalists for literary prizes.

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