“The poems in this volume fall into two parts. Hand Games, poems of the first section, is the daily bread of my past two years or so. They are the artifacts of loving in a personal way, of struggles in a wide and a narrower frame, of planting and harvesting in the earth and on paper, of building new friendships and mourning the death of friends. They speak of zucchini and oaks and cats, of jogging and writing, of nuclear power plants and suicide, of fat and of street hassling.
”The Lunar Cycle forms the second part. I first heard of the lunar calendar in my childhood, when I asked why Passover falls on a different date every year and was answered that it falls on Nisan 14, the fourteenth day of the lunar month of Nisan. The next time I came across the moon-month was in reading Robert Graves in search of the old goddess religions. But the lunar calendar has really only been an intimate part of my life since I moved near the ocean and the bay and had to become conscious of the tides; for one thing, to get the sweet Wellfleet oysters.
For more precise understanding I owe a lot to Nancy F. W.Passmore of the Luna Press, who every year produces The Lunar Calendar with thirteen months, their old Celtic names, associations from around the world, time of moon rise and set and all the phases. It tells me at a glance when my period will come and when I can expect to ovulate, and it is the most beautiful calendar I have ever seen, with the months in the form of spirals rather than grids.
”Not being constrained by commerce to produce a calendar to sell by January first, Roman time, I begin when my year opens, in the spring; with Nisan, the first month of the Jewish religious year – although I have used the Celtic names, as does The Lunar Calendar, in homage to that labor of love. Rediscovering the lunar calendar has been a part of rediscovering women’s past, but it has also meant for me a series of doorways to some of the non-rational aspects of being a living woman: Thus The Lunar Cycle, explorations of my last two years.”
“The Cycle of poems based on the Celtic Lunar Calendar, which gives her book its title happens to be marvelous…All these poems are interesting, some are masterpieces.”
Anne Stevenson, TIMES LITERARY SUPPLEMENT (London)
for Gloria Nardin Watts
Most mornings we go running side by side
two women in mid-lives jogging, awkward
in our baggy improvisations, two
bundles of rejects from the thrift shop.
Men in their zippy outfits run in packs
on the road where we park, meet
like lovers on the wood’s edge and walk
sedately around the corner out of sight
to our own hardened clay road, High Toss.
Slowly we shuffle, serious, panting
but talking as we trot, our old honorable
wounds in knee and back and ankle paining
us, short, fleshy, dark haired, Italian
and Jew, with our full breasts carefully
confined. We are rich earthy cooks
both of us and the flesh we are working
off was put on with grave pleasure. We
appreciate each other’s cooking, each
other’s art, photographer and poet, jogging
in the chill and wet and green, in the blaze
of young sun, talking over our work,
our plans, our men, our ideas, watching
each other like a pot that might boil dry
for that sign of too harsh fatigue.
It is not the running I love, thump
thump with my leaden feet that only
infrequently are winged and prancing,
but the light that glints off the cattails
as the wind furrows them, the rum cherries
reddening leaf and fruit, the way the pines
blacken the sunlight on their bristles,
the hawk flapping three times, then floating
low over beige grasses,
and your company
as we trot, two friendly dogs leaving
tracks in the sand. The geese call
on the river wandering lost in sedges
and we talk and pant, pant and talk
in the morning early and busy together.