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Trish Saunders: Qualities of Light
Part of the PoetryCircle Showcase series.
  • Grey Ocean, Grey Sky

    You were so quiet, standing looking over the waves,
    so many years ago, I've forgotten how many,
    long before we fought over trivialities and held grudges.
    Strange, how the sky turned a shade of grey,
    creating one vast tableau of ships and ocean.

    You turned to me and said, ‘I will not forget this.
    In years to come, if I’m dissatisfied with my life, remind me.
    Tell me there was a time when everything framed perfectly.’
    You were about to say more, but the sea withdrew and I woke up.

    For days afterward, you reappeared in a puff of engine smoke,
    a gull’s cry over the ocean. I imagined I heard your voice
    merging with the gull’s, creating one wave, one map of the world.


    Light Leaks Under the Door

    You’re an unwelcome presence.
    Vacant doesn't mean rooms for rent, but
    since you’re here, look around,
    not much has changed.

    Same sour-milk walls.
    Sink's still clogged, but the
    stove and fridge work fine,
    and the neighborhood has no
    history of violence (after that
    one time).

    Yes, go haunt the garden, mind the
    broken steps, that bougainvillea called lipstick red
    reminds me of a pole-dancer the way
    it winds around everything—
    obscene, isn’t it?

    You left a lamp on last time you came.
    Please don’t do that;
    when light leaks under the door
    naturally, I think someone
    waits inside for me to
    shed my sandals,
    drop the gun, enter
    and be forgiven.


    Why The Golden Plover Stands

    I came to learn the language of trees,
    ancient tongue, nearly extinct, like the
    Hawaiian crow or shave-ice shacks on
    Like-Like Highway where Aloha Gas now sits.

    I came expecting koa trees and palms,
    I found instead an old brick chimney wall,
    golden plover standing beside it, motionless
    though he can fly 3,000 miles from Alaska,
    without stopping.
    Like the plover, I came expecting more.


    Menacing Night

    What craziness takes you out tonight?
    Moonlight will hit your car windshield. Hard.
    Crows will rise above the trestle,
    turn, look directly at you.
    Do not think of them as birds.


    Island Eyes

    Living in the tropics, time slows, bends,
    even crawls backwards.
    Summer is never ending.
    Seasons change when papayas ripen,
    gardenias come into bloom.
    Anything might happen here.
    A rare wild orchid will open delicate petals
    in a slice of dirt under the freeway.

    Gorgeous birds, once thought extinct,
    might land on the tarmac at hilo airport.
    Passengers speeding by in rented cars will not notice.
    You alone will see brilliant feathers,
    observe the myths rising in mountain air.


    My Father Dreams of Ships

    My father remembers ancient banyan trees.
    He sees ghosts in the tall temple grass,
    smells rain on abandoned sugar cane.

    He watches the ocean and waits.
    My father sees a tall ship in Honolulu Harbor,
    silent and crewless, bobbing with the waves,
    and thinks it waits for him.

    Listen, I tell him, that ship is all in your mind
    but he counters, You see it too—
    and it's true, I see it, pale and shifting
    like Molokai sands.

    My father remembers ships in flames,
    torpedoes flying over the Ko'olau.
    He sees a young girl pin a hibiscus
    behind her left ear as she descends the stairs.


    Trading Places

    Gradually, she became my daughter.
    She leans on me now—slim novella
    resting against a solid, reassuring cookbook.
    Is this what my life will be now? Offering coffee,
    opening mail, pointing at pretty birdies.

    Because she has a fear that can’t be quenched,
    I am with her.  Someone is always with her.
    She peers around corners,
    shyly, she looks at me for explanation.
    If only I had one.

    She woke up one day, in a forest, and
    did not recognize her surroundings.
    An entire lifetime was gone.
    One minute, a blonde college girl,
    next minute, a near-centenarian,
    not sure where the kitchen is.

    She remembers trillium in springtime;
    her twin brother’s car, but not his name.
    She thinks I will abandon her.
    It’s touching to see her reach out and poke me.
    Am I real?

    All I can give now are reassurances and lies.
    There is nothing to fear, Mother.
    Nothing at all.
  • Trish Saunders worked as a journalist, technical editor, and caregiver for her parents before she began writing poems.

    She lives in Hawaii.
  1. Daniel J. Flore III
    How did I miss this??? Outstanding Trish. The mood of it. God. Sad island woefulness.
    "Light Leaks Under the Door" destroyed me. Perfect melancholy.
  2. David Belcher
    Fine collection Trish. My father dreams of ships has spark, it really does.
  3. Marian Veverka
    I can see everything you say without a word of explanation.  Truth and beauty lives in every line.  Thank good ness I came back to read everything over again
    TrishSaunders likes this.
  4. Cameron McClure
    Trish, I once bought a book just to read the same four lines over and over; I think I will be coming back to this collection again. Your poems are beautiful and profound.
    BTW they made me weep.
    TrishSaunders likes this.
  5. Obed Ladiny
    I admire the style which these poems are written, Trish. They are simple (but not cliche), felt, and profound in giving. Glad I read them.
    TrishSaunders likes this.
  6. Isabelle M. Chasse
    I am stunned by the stark beauty of these poems, Trish.  The second was really hurtful for so many reasons.  The last one hit home, my mother died July 2014, our last days were fraught and sad.  All of these, so good.  And Pearl Harbor!  Having just passed the anniversary of the event, it's fresh in my mind.  Obviously for someone who lived it,  it's still fresh in their minds even more powerfully.
    TrishSaunders likes this.
  7. Scott G. Rich
    I really like this collection my favorites are "Why the Golden Plover Stands" and "My Father Dreams of Ships."  Their all really powerful, really nice.
    TrishSaunders likes this.
  8. Tom Riordan
    Great to read this, Trish.
    Struck this time thru, especially, by the endings of the first two.
    TrishSaunders likes this.
  9. Paul Brookes
    Careful, considered, apt and appropriate imagery and words that resonate long after.
    TrishSaunders likes this.
  10. Rick Stansberger
    I'm impressed  by your calm, masterful touch.
    TrishSaunders likes this.
  11. TrishSaunders
    Thank you, Linda, I had massive editing help on the crows to birds, esp. from Tiko and Tom. (P.S. I love your crows poem.)
  12. Linda Benninghoff
    I love this, Trish.  It builds from poem to poem.  The one about crows not being birds is something I wanted to say but couldn't.  The one about the girl who turns out to be your mother is so moving.
    TrishSaunders likes this.
  13. Alexander White
    Wow -- this is an impressive collection.  Each piece is individually moving in its own way, but in particular "Grey Ocean, Grey Skies," "Island Eyes," and "Trading Places" really stood out to me.  I really felt the somber romantic air of "Grey Ocean, Grey Skies," it tugged at more than one heartstring.
    TrishSaunders likes this.
  14. Marian Veverka
    TrishSaunders likes this.
  15. Paul.....Brookes
    Amazing, deep and moving.
    TrishSaunders likes this.
  16. John Johnson
    Good lord, Trish
    TrishSaunders likes this.
  17. TrishSaunders
    Thank you, all, for reading and commenting.
  18. bodkin
    "Light Leaks Under the Door" is my favourite so far, but still reading...
    TrishSaunders likes this.
  19. brendan christopher
    Trish, glad to revisit your work and the collection here feels cohesive.  My Father Dreams of Ships is a poem I always enjoy returning to...
    Jay Dougherty likes this.
  20. Jon Klein
    John's comment made me read this entire collection. I love them all.
    TrishSaunders likes this.