Thursday, November 5, 2015, at 7:00 pm, poets Jenifer Browne Lawrence and Gail Thomas will continue the ninth season of the Collected Poets Series. Mocha Maya’s Coffee House, 47 Bridge St, Shelburne Falls, MA. ($2-5 suggested donation)
Jenifer Browne Lawrence’s Grayling was the winner of the 2015 Perugia Press Prize. Her first book of poems was One Hundred Steps from Shore. Her awards include the Orlando Poetry Prize, the James Hearst Poetry Prize, the Potomac Review Poetry Prize, and a Washington State Artist Trust GAP Grant. She has recent work in Los Angeles Review, Narrative, North American Review, Rattle, and elsewhere. Jenifer lives in a small seaside community on Puget Sound, where she works as a civil engineering technician and edits Crab Creek Review.
Gail Thomas has published three books of poetry, Waving Back (Turning Point, 2015), No Simple Wilderness: An Elegy for Swift River Valley (Haley’s, 2001) and Finding the Bear (Perugia Press, 1997). Her poems have appeared in many journals and anthologies including The Beloit Poetry Journal, Calyx, Hanging Loose, The North American Review, The Chiron Review, Cider Press Review, and Naugatuck River Review. She has received grants from the Massachusetts Cultural Council and the Ludwig Vogelstein Foundation and was awarded residencies at the MacDowell Colony and Ucross. Her book, No Simple Wilderness, about the creation of the Quabbin Reservoir in the 1930s, has been taught in writing and multidisciplinary courses. As one of the original artists for the MCC’s Elder Arts Initiative, Thomas led workshops and intergenerational arts projects across the state. Originally from Pennsylvania, Thomas raised her daughters in Western Massachusetts where she has lived for more than 30 years. She is a learning specialist and teaches at Smith College.
IN THE HOUSE ON GASTINEAU CHANNEL / Jenifer Browne Lawrence
My sister ironed her dress
on a bath towel laid over the walnut table.
Heat lifted the varnish and shaped
a milk cloud of a missing girl.
November tides flushed blue
clay and cobbles from beneath the deck,
saltwater freezing to creosote pilings like pitch.
Curly dark-haired dog, a salmon-catcher
with a retriever’s soft mouth, and she,
third from our mother’s womb.
The baneberry grew like a prophet.
Behind the outhouse, we nailed
siding in a Sitka spruce, a platform
big enough for a sleeping bag and book.
Above us, scolding, the red
squirrel with a turquoise tumor
like a jewel piercing its eyelid.
THE LAST MULBERRY TREE IN FLORENCE, MASSACHUSETTS / Gail Thomas
The Last Mulberry Tree in Florence, Massachusetts
It survives in a lopsided tangle next to
the ball bearing repair shop across from
the plastics factory that used to be a silk mill.
That was when the abolitionists
said, No cotton in this town, and Sojourner Truth
drew crowds at Cosmian Hall. She settled
into a little house next to long-haired
communal types, white Unitarians, conductors
on the underground railroad who wanted
to change the name of the river to Arno
because Italian worms produced such fine silk.
Children stayed alert for the wriggling, green
bodies that earned coins, and purple
stained the sole of every boot.