If You Have Forgotten Joy

Author | Marianne Peel

I. If you have forgotten joy
wander down to the pier
and watch the ducklings
follow their mama at dawn.
All triangle forms and symmetrical patters
on the lighted water, their fur not quite feathers,
the fuzz on their necks still so soft and cotton,
following a mama who knows no intolerance.
Moving secure along the June water.
Dancing grace.
Dancing water waltz.

II. If you have forgotten joy
wander on over to old man Olney’s yard
on a thirsty July afternoon
when the ground is so stiff
that she has difficulty swallowing even the sun.
There old man Olney will be
in his fisherman’s hat all tilted and cocked
flaps flip-flopped alongside his forehead and temples,
spraying that twisty hose at his snapdragons and rhododendrens.
Watch him laugh, just a little, when the robin comes
to catch one of those drowning worms for her baby.
She deposits that twitchin’ spasm of a worm
into her baby’s beak, saving just a piece for herself
for a late afternoon snack.

III. If you have forgotten joy
walk on over to Patriarch park in August
just after the sun travels out of the sky
and stand nearby the trio of Rose of Sharons
on the east end, down past the wooden swing.
There you will find a gathering of fireflies
playing their part in the evening symphony
mostly tacit
counting measures of incredible rests
until they burst out of the score.
Resounding just for a moment
over all the other instruments, 
like the tympani in Beethoven’s ninth symphony.
If your movements are andante
and your breath very pianissimo
and if you make your hands
into the mute house of a piccolo trumpet,
this firefly may dance into your hands.

IV. Hold the firefly just for a moment
fighting all temptation to prisoner her
in that mayonnaise jar with the rusty holes in the lid.
Release her back into the humid air,
sending her back to the nighttime orchestra,
Knowing you have set free the music and the light
and that her journey
will give joy and memory
to the next admirer of Rose of Sharons
in full bloom in August.

About the Author | Marianne Peel taught English at middle and high school for 32 years. She is now retired, doing Field Instructor work at Michigan State University. She recently won 1st prize for poetry in the Spring 2016 Edition of the Gadfly Literary Magazine. She also won the Pete Edmonds Poetry Prize. In addition, Marianne has been published in Muddy River Review; Silver Birch Press; Eastlit; Persephone’s Daughters; Encodings: A Feminist Literary Journal; Write to Heal; Writing for Our Lives: Our Bodies—Hurts, Hungers, Healing; Mother Voices; Metropolitan Woman Magazine; Ophelia’s Mom; Jellyfish Whispers; Remembered Arts Journal. Marianne also received Fulbright-Hays Awards to Nepal and Turkey. She is a flute playing vocalist, learning to play ukulele, who is raising four daughters. She shares her life with her partner Scott, whom she met in Istanbul while studying in Turkey. Marianne also taught teachers in Guizhou Province, China for three summers, and she also toured several provinces in China with the Valpraiso Symphony, playing both flute and piccolo, in January of 2016. Recently, Marianne was invited to participate in Marge Piercy’s Juried Intensive Poetry Workshop in June 2016. This fall, she journeyed to Georgia O’Keefe’s Ghost Ranch in New Mexico, where she took part in an amazing Narrative Poetry Writing Seminar.

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