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Sample Poems by MaryEllen Letarte


The cure is salt water
-a swish will do
or a sway floating on the Gulf of Mexico,
a rippled journey measured
by tears shed, rain endured.
I wind my way home
to myself.

I drink the wild air like a pilgrim
with no yesterday to return to
or tomorrow to work for.

I climb Mt Fuji, sail the Sargasso Sea,
find the lady slipper under the pine and
the truffle under the log.

I'm a dandelion on the wind
with my own sunshine,
my own navigation.

White Patch on Elm Street

I was the last one on the limb, the others climbed higher in the old tree. They took a look at a patch in the backfield, saw what they thought was spring snow. The branch snapped and I fell, saw blood run down my leg as I eyed the elm limb. Dad carried me into the house (it must have been Sunday) where he wrapped a towel around my leg and we sped to the hospital. The doctor's skill wouldn't pass Sewing 101. Stitches too wide, too loose. No one will see this, he said. Miniskirts weren't worn then. The scar is still there on my thigh. It reminds me of the patch of white we saw on the grass, not snow, but a calf born that day.

yesterday's vision
tears cloud more than we know
elm trees felled by insects


I hold my coat closed,
shiver in the longer days,
as the fuzzy, tree limbs
hail the red and green nodes.
Bushes expose their color
and robins pick up straw
to build their nests.

Trills, chirps, and peeps
return me to another May
when forsythia poked through
a cover of snow and cheered
my dying mother. She wanted
to stay to smell the lilacs,
to watch the fledglings.

"I'll miss you." She said.
And birds twittered as we
prayed, Hail Mary full of grace.

The Icon

The portrait of the Madonna and Child was in my life from the beginning-the blue cloak, the sad eyes. It was ensconced in my family's living room, a sanctuary where we read, talked, took photos, welcomed Christians, Jews, and Muslims. We all sat there under the watchful eye of the "Blessed Mother, Our Lady." Mama cherished that portrait. When she grew old, it watched over her those last troubled days. In that lost portrait "Our Lady" was dressed like a peasant. She didn't have a halo. I don't know who claimed her.

The "Lady" is still grand in my mind, I'd like to know her title. It wasn't "Our Lady of Perpetual Help," though Mama called her that and I always needed help. She wasn't "Our Lady of Sorrows," although she looked plenty sorrowful. We schoolchildren were told that she cried for all the sins in the world, including ours. She wasn't "Our Lady of Victory." Who was she? She wasn't "Our Lady of Lourdes" or "Our Lady of Fatima." I wanted to meet those blue-cloaked ladies. "Queen of the Heavens" and "Our Lady of Guadeloupe," I first saw in a dusty museum. Could she be Maryam, Allah's mother? The Qur'an does mention her many times.

After I looked on the world-wide-web, I remembered I'd find her in my photo-album. She's there on the wall behind me in my wedding portrait. That's it! She must be "Our Lady of The Lake," the name of the church where I got married. Or maybe she's "Our Lady of Matrimony." After all, I've been married almost fifty years, someone guided me.