Gail Tyson has given up writing poetry countless times, but it keeps returning like a lover who won’t quit. She has studied with fine poets: Mary Lane Potter, Samantha Wynne-Rhydderch, Kathy Miles, Marilyn Kallet, Cathy Smith Bowers, and Menna Elfyn. An alumna of Stanford’s Creative Writing Program and the Dylan Thomas Summer School at the University of Wales, she has attended juried workshops at Collegeville Institute, Looking Glass Rock Writers Conference, and Rivendell Writers Colony.
The grip of a rip tide
stowed in a crow-black wave
slipped me far from shore, held
me like a long, lush note
from Bel Canto, that moment when terrorists
stormed the mansion, shattering the aria,
the rapt awe of the diplomats
who half-rose, then sank
on their spindled chairs,
stunned by the slap-
slide of semi-automatics, the cocked
child-heads in soft black hoods.
When fear took me hostage—
salt-swell choking the float
of thought—it turned me
into dread, my limbs dissolving.
Sound waves pulsed through skin,
pure vibration loosed
my unlived life, drove it forth,
towed my numb body toward voices
pooling in the shallows, singing me
out of water, onto silvery sand
like a long-held note that lingers
after song fades away.
Day after day, hospice aides turn
your father in the metal bed.
Turn by turn, your mouth tightens,
strict as hospital corners.
“When I’m dying,” you blurt,
“take me to the woods and leave me.”
Husband, I know how rivers run
deep in your blood, how the prick
of pine needles, tang of hemlock
comforts you more than any drug,
how urgent birdsong is the last
refrain you would long to hear
save for my voice. If I could,
I’d scout woods far from this thicket
of tubes, woodlands where he led you,
trussed in blaze orange, age five,
good at keeping quiet. I’d find
the bed of leaves where you fell asleep,
tender like you are tonight,
alert to rustling, the wild one
come to browse this clearing, light stretched
thin from the hall, the space between us
hushed by muffled wheeze.