Tag Archives: Sandra Skouson

End of the Drought by Sandra Skouson

I
Rain comes to the man in the field, steady
rain that soaks his shirt.  He makes himself
alone a few paces from his tractor, takes
off his hat, lifts his face to the clouds.
The woman runs from the house to drag
clothes off the line, but having done it
she stands outside the back door, her arms
full of wilting sheets, and breathes again–full
deep breaths for the first time in ten years.

Children bind sticks together for a raft
to float in the gutter.  Laughing, they follow
it downhill to a small dam of sopping weeds
and silt, catch it and bring it back to sail again.
Their feet brown and wet, they come home,
bringing small rocks shining with new colors
to make a row on the window sill.

II
The desert drinks herself to returning life. Red
clay darkens, gleams, and softens.  Roads crack
and break away.  Washes widen.  The heart
of the mountain draws water to deep shale where
coolness pools and oozes toward the seeps.

Seeds, the wind has stirred with sand through
circles of time, soften and sprout.  The desert
blooms and rejoices against her own identity.

III
Our prayers are answered, blessings open
the pores of our skin. Our hair looses its
crispness.  Our shoulders loose their tension.
Roses bloom against the eastern wall.

Rain fills our rain gutters, swamps our sewer,
and floods the lower garden.  The house floats
heavily now on an underground river.  We feel
no movement, but we are forced to bale water
or abandon ship.  We live to a new pulse;
the sump pump throbs water out of the basement.
We carry books and boxes upstairs, pull up
the carpet, and set the beds on blocks.  Children
sleep wrapped in blankets on the living room floor.

One day the sun will burn again, the water drain,
the wind fill up with dust.  The desert will come
to her own.  Until that day, our house rides
the jubilee current.  We stay with it.

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To read another of Sandra’s Spring Runoff entries and her bio, go here.

*Competition entry*

Walking to the Moon by Sandra Skouson

After breakfast the moon hangs
almost near enough to touch.
I do not resist.  Cutting across the lawn
I walk west past the row
of apple trees, climb the log fence,
crush soggy leaves deeper
into the pasture grass, duck under
the next fence.  From here on
I choose my way carefully through sagebrush,
scuff my shoes against yellow rocks
until the edge of the canyon stops me.

The morning the tree burned,
nothing stopped me.
I followed its shining until
I touched the trunk
and let the branches spill
their sparks, bright cushions,
catkins, clustered flowers
of fire, in my hair.

Behind me someone starts a car.
But for the moon I would go back,
kiss him good-bye, begin my chores.
Instead, half crouching, I grab
the gray branch of fallen juniper
and inch my way into the canyon.

______________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Sandra Skouson, poet and teacher, grew up on a farm in Idaho just west of the Tetons.  As an adult she has lived in many places, Japan, German, Massachusetts, Virginia, California and Arizona.  Currently she writes from Monticello, Utah, in the heart of the four corners area.

*Competition entry*

Definition of Now by Sandra Skouson

I
The breeze has caught
the cherry tree ready to shed
her petals and the air
is filled with flakes.
They settle in grass
and the lee of the garden steps.
The rosebush that clasps
the creaking trellis
is speckled with white.

II
What is the time?
It is now.  And the place?
The place is here.
How does now look?
It looks like here.

III
Time will take away the thrill
of dazzled air, but hope
continues along my spine
to meet the weight of earth
rising from my feet.

IV
There is no language for now;
silence will have to do.
There is no movement for now;
stillness will have to do.

V
All now is enclosed in this:
at the edge of one breath,
a petal trembles
against my wrist
and the thrush call holds
the center of one note.

__________________________________________________________________

To see Sandra’s bio and read more of her work published on WIZ go here, here, here, and here.

*contest entry*

April Fool’s Day, 1997 by Sandra Skouson

So soon after the green grass,
jonquils showing, the willow
shining again, the joke is
on me.  I find a coat, boots,
muffler, drag the snow shovel
out of the shed.  How funny!
Three fender-benders here in
town and broken trees.  Up north,
four people died in a wreck.
Did you mean to blow the shell
off that white pickup, the
pie to be so salty no
one could eat it, my sister
to run from the room in tears?

________________________________________________________________________

To read Sandra’s bio and more of her poetry on WIZ, go here, here, and here.

*contest entry*

Runoff Rerun: Naming Spring by Sandra Skouson

Today the secret names of everything
come back, the ancient names.
Tribe-of-the-morning names
call to me from the wind, which I know
as shut-your-eyes-breath,
hands-over-your-ears, gone-with-the-ice-song,
hymn-rising-out-of-cottonwood-sap.
Smell-of-dogwood; it is called,
smell-of-willow.

Daffodil has become again
small-pusher-of-earth-and-snow,
light-out-of-stone,
seawater-turned-sunshine.

This morning has its own name,
separate from all other mornings,
fire-in-the-clouds
waking-in-the-folds-of-mountain,
joy-of-long-shadows.

And now spring has brought
mist-in-my-breath,
shining-on-the-rocks,
quick-and-noisy-in-the-canyon,
to make soft soil in the garden
where I kneel for the first time
on the almost-warm-gift-to-growing
and work my spade toward summer.

________________________________________________________________

Sandra Skouson won the Utah Arts Council prize in poetry for a book-length manuscript in 2004.  In 1996 she won the Arts Council prize for ten poems.  Her poems have appeared in Petroglyph, Ellipsis, and Great and Peculiar Beauty: A Utah Reader. She is the mother of nine children, the grandmother of 30 really adorable grandchildren.  To read more of her work, go here and here.

“Naming Spring” first ran during WIZ’s 2010 Spring Poetry Runoff.  I’ve chosen it from the host of last spring’s really fine offerings  for a Runoff Rerun–a second showing and a stunning kick-off for this year’s festivities.

*contest entry*

“Naming Spring” by Sandra Skouson

Today the secret names of everything
come back, the ancient names.
Tribe-of-the-morning names
call to me from the wind, which I know
as shut-your-eyes-breath,
hands-over-your-ears, gone-with-the-ice-song,
hymn-rising-out-of-cottonwood-sap.
Smell-of-dogwood; it is called,
smell-of-willow.

Daffodil has become again
small-pusher-of-earth-and-snow,
light-out-of-stone,
seawater-turned-sunshine.

This morning has its own name,
separate from all other mornings,
fire-in-the-clouds
waking-in-the-folds-of-mountain,
joy-of-long-shadows.

And now spring has brought
mist-in-my-breath,
shining-on-the-rocks,
quick-and-noisy-in-the-canyon,
to make soft soil in the garden
where I kneel for the first time
on the almost-warm-gift-to-growing
and work my spade toward summer.

_____________________________________________________________

For Sandra’s bio and other poems submitted to WIZ’s Spring Poetry Runoff, click here and here.

*Contest entry*

“Girl Without a Mother to Her Big Brother” by Sandra Skouson

I never saw so many frogs;
You didn’t either. We walked
the tracks, sometimes stepping
from tie to tie, sometimes
walking the rail–holding
our hands out as if
for balance.  It was all show.
Our balance was never
in question.  Besides the danger
ran in the other direction,
along the bridge.  We
could look down, almost dizzy,
and see the river.  But even there,
we didn’t need our hands–
only our feet
and our knowing the way.

They were in the hole
under the beet dump,
flooded with spring sub water,
little frogs, noisy and so many
we ran home, using the road,
using big steps and racing
so we could bring back
a shoe box.  We filled that thing
with frogs and took them home,
taking turns carrying.
We knew what we needed,
but we had no plan.  Only later
we discovered big sisters
do not understand a throbbing
shoe box Monday morning
under the clothesline.

_____________________________________________________________

For Sandra’s bio and another of her Spring Runoff Poems, click here.

*Non-contest submission*

“Beginning to Rain: At Monument Valley” by Sandra Skouson

Under these clouds the earth
Has raised a monument
To herself, tier by tier, a replica
Of the stone beneath my feet.

I am stone, too–stone
And one hot wick of life
Fusing me to the first generation,
Flaring forward from me to the last.
Stone, thread, and rain

One March, Grandfather held
A forked stick by the prongs
And walked slowly back and forth
Across the lava–back and forth
In small steps and watched
The stick dip and writhe.

That was how we got our garden,
Dragging a hoe beside the string
Stretched between two sticks,
Marking rows in dust of rock.
The wick was in the seeds.
That was all–rock, thread,
And Grandfather’s water.
Days and nights came with the rock.

It is spring again.  A stone vireo
Sings his hymn from the top branch
Of brittle sage.  I touch nothing
Only watch the waiting fortress
Clad in the shadows of clouds.

When I am divided into my elements,
I will be all stone,
Except the water and the thread.

____________________________________________________________

Sandra Skouson won the Utah Arts Council prize in poetry for a book-length manuscript in 2004.  In 1996 she won the Arts Council prize for ten poems.  Her poems have appeared in Petroglyph, Ellipsis, and Great and Peculiar Beauty: A Utah Reader. She is the mother of nine children, the grandmother of 30 really adorable grandchildren.

“Beginning to Rain: At Monument Valley” was originally titled “Another Spring.”  It was published in Petroglyph 4, 1992.

*Contest entry*