Wednesday, April 10, 2013

National Poetry Month - Celebrating Poet Joan Ellen Gage.

It's National Poetry Month. My goal this year is to celebrate southern and Appalachian poets. I called for poems that celebrate life itself, poems that especially honor human life and the human spirit.  

Today, Here Above the Frost Line, we celebrate poet Joan Ellen Gage. She lives part of her year in Florida and the rest in the mountains of Western North Carolina. She has two collections:  Water Running Downhill and Embracing Your Inner Cheerleader.

by Joan Ellen Gage

What is a breast?
It is, by design, in its simplest form
A source of nourishment
A literal “fountain of youth”

A breast is an ornament
Of the flesh, ascetically varied,
Rounded, pillowed, or arched
An achingly beautiful sculpture of nature

A breast is a haven
For comforting small humans
Or sheltering family and friends
With arms and bodies enfolded tightly, as in prayer

A breast can also give or receive
Pleasure, with our partners
As active participants
In the mating dance of life

A breast is the epitome of the heart
Of womankind, as with our breasts
We nurture, comfort, and love.
That is why we hold them so dear

Through breast cancer, women may
Lose these deeply personal pieces
Of their flesh, that share so much
And give succor to life

But, we must remember that
Women are the origin of strength
In this world, and with or
Without breasts, we are the same!

We will still nurture
We will still comfort
And we will still love
We will do this, by design

from Water Running Downhill

For Tina and all of her sisters

The Invader Within

by Joan Ellen Gage

Was the cause environmental,
Or was it family genetics?
How did this happen?
Perhaps, it was just karma
Bringing me this dark, unwanted gift
This cancer

The alien DNA
Hidden in the structure
Of the genome
Its time bomb releasing
Microscopic invaders burrowing
Into tissue, my tissue

Facing myself in the mirror,
Today, chopping long dark hair
Shorter, and shorter still
Wondering who is this stranger
Who stares back
Stone-faced and resolute?

I begin this deeply personal
Uphill battle, or is it downhill?
Warrior stance—I am ready
“Let’s do this!” to my husband
We travel silently to chemo
Unspoken words blowing through
Our minds like autumn leaves

He holds my hand as we begin
IV dripping, we watch morning TV
Oblivious to the screen, thoughts
Still flowing, overflowing, synchronized
With the IV releasing the drug/poison
I will it to find the interloper
“Seek out the alien intruder, now!”

Many weeks have passed, now
Time has slowed to a turtle’s pace
I have sat in that recliner
Many hours, with needle piercing my flesh,
Chemo flowing, a soft cap covering the baby fuzz
Where my hair used to be
I turn my mind inward, pray and give thanks
Liquid ninja’s course through my veins
“Finish it”, I pray, “amen”.

from Embracing your Inner Cheerleader

For Sheryl and all her sisters

More about the author - click on her site.

Comments and words of encouragement that celebrate poetry
during this special time of year will be appreciated. Below.


Maren O. Mitchell said...

Joan - powerful, brave, full of beauty! Thank you!

Nancy Simpson said...

Thanks for your thought Maren. I agree with you.