Letters Between Anne and Pam

After Three Days at Cape Cod National Seashore 

Anne, you wrote of ripe red tomatoes, 
robe, pen and rake, 
different kinds of red that ask to be noticed.
Who’s to say red’s not born of longing or sadness—
or ecstasy—a long, slow delicious simmer. 

Along the Cape Cod upland—everywhere red: 
scarlet, crimson, carmine, blush, 
maroon, cinnabar, bitchin’ itchin’ ivy red—  
that proliferation crawling the ground, 
vining the pines, the woods’ 
last hurrah into November, the Day of the Dead—

Dia de los Muertos, 
the red leaves remembering, 
ofrenda along an altar path.
Anne, it seems as if my whole family’s here, too.
The red touches me and catches fire,
our voices rising through the leaves.

What gifts can I offer them?
A rosary, some marzipan, a pilsner beer, 
saved ticket stubs from that Red Sox game, 
my smile,
some words I never said?  

First Real Snow on the Ground

Muchisimas gracias, Pam, I'll take that beer
and head again to Fenway Park where
in 1992, I sat
among the chanting crowd, afloat on
songs, huzzahs, boos, groans—
no member of the tribe, unloyal, uncaring
adrift in sun, blue sky, popcorn,
browned hotdogs with their brilliant mustard,
solid thunk of bat and ball,
riding the glorified diamond of action.

But—a rosary—necklace of prayers 
  for fingers to pattern with hope, regret, loss, 
    the feel of beads smooth as they roll, words
      rolling likewise, though truth to tell, I've never held
        such tokens, never prayed, refuse to bow my head
          when others swing their messages through the heavy air.

Yet any gift's a gift, and I can imagine tumble of beads in my palm,
their cool surety, how they wait, silent as the catcher watching the pitcher's signals—
ready, getting ready, trembling ready.
And yes, could we have plenty of marzipan, please, 
and travel to lands
where the almond trees grow, 
where the sugar cane sings,
far from these snow-covered hills.

PAMELA AHLEN is program coordinator for Bookstock Literary Festival held each summer in Woodstock, Vermont. She organizes literary events for Osher (Lifelong Education at Dartmouth) and compiled and edited Osher’s Anthology of Poets and Writers: Celebrating Twenty-Five Years at Dartmouth. Pam received an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts and is the author of the chapbook Gather Every Little Thing (Finishing Line Press).

ANNE BOWER's past lives include academia, cooking, secretarial and census work, managing a flood control agency. Now retired, she teaches tai chi, gardens, serves as a trustee at the tiny local library, has time for words and more words, and the good fortune of health and family to inspire her even as world calamities threaten. Publications include two chapbooks—Poems for Tai Chi Players (Kattywompus Press) and The Space Between Us (Finishing Line Press). Individual poems have appeared in PoemTown: Randolph (2017, 2018, 2019), Likely Red, Naugatuck River Review (2019 Contest finalist), ArtAscent, Evening Street Review, Light Journal, Gemini Magazine (2018 Contest winner), and The Literary Nest.

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ISSN: 1533 2063
FALL 2019