Sunday, April 22, 2012

Day 21: Alate

Well, there is always one day when one falls short in a poem-a-day exercise, right?  Since yesterday was that day for me, I aim to "catch-up" today.  Yesterday and the night before were packed with inspiring events.  First, I had the great pleasure of reading Friday night with the talented poets Gwynn O'Gara, Phyllis Mesculum, Terry Ehret, Bill Vartnaw, Penelope LaMontagne, Larry Robinson and Judith Stone in an event called, "Poems of Sacred Geography".  I read selections from the poems I've been writing this month.  It felt risky to read what is just written.  But, I'm glad I did.  Then, the next morning was Sebastopol's Apple Blossom parade.  The parade is still a big event in our town.  Main street is shut down and we all go out to watch the marching bands and floats roll past.  It was the hottest day we'd had this year (it seems like the Apple Blossom festival always is!) as we watched modern Sebastopol interwoven with the past: an Wells Fargo Stagecoach, and 100 year old apple sprayers that once pumped arsenic and lead on the apple trees to keep the pests away.  This parade, which was once the Gravenstein Apple Show (1910 - 1915) continues long after the apples are less and the main crop grown in our town.  Then, in the afternoon, we had a wonderful fundraiser for California Poets in the Schools - the organization I teach for where we teach poetry lessons to children in K-12 classroom.  Students ages 6 - 16 got up and recited from memory or read poetry in front of a large crowd.  It was a powerful event and thankfully, a successful fundraiser.  All of these events left me without much time to write but contemplating the prompt.  Alate means winged. It come from the latin alatus - meaning wing.  On these bright days it seems most everything is winged.  But the parade is where my imagination was centered yesterday.  One woman kept walking up and down the mile stretch of the parade route.  She was an older woman and she was wearing golden wings that she danced up and down the route flapping.  At first, her appearance just made you smile, but then when she continued to show up: dancing next to the high school marching band, or the town fire trucks, she made you question why she was there.  For me, she became a symbol of the town's history. A golden winged pest that continually returns and makes us question the present.  Here is the draft I wrote today, for yesterday's prompt:

The 66th Apple Blossom Parade, 2012

The whole town seemed over-exposed in bright
new sunlight on the day of the Apple
Blossom parade. We stood four-thick watching
our children in uniform marching bands
pass by, the shined up fire trucks throwing
handfuls of bright candy, and the old men,
who continually ride their old tractors
or apple sprayers down the parade route.
Arcs of water spray out of old machines
that once carried lead and arsenic to
keep an orchard clean of unwanted pests
and the hot parade watchers beg for it.

All along the parade route the alate
woman appears. She spreads her golden wings
and dances next to the marching band. Then,
re-appears in front of the fire truck.
We laugh at her. Shoo her off. Think her a
fool. But she returns, dancing and smiling.

When the parade stops, we gather children.
The streets are swept. We go home to fallow
fields still freckled with unpruned trees still warm
from sunburns, still thinking of what’s passed us
by as the fog rolls in and sedates us.

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