Laura Foley

I Stopped and turned, to see,on my periphery,what played such a gentle note—cresting the field’s edge,full of rustling yellow leaves,a line of twenty or thirtyslender poplar trees,the mid-day sun singling outeach leaf equally. I turned, saw and listened,knowing, Christ and Buddha-like,that all was good—if today proved to be my last on Earth,I would be grateful I had stoppedto see the dancing poplar trees,all those jeweled bits of light. The Most Important Thing, I Learn From My Granddaughter After her long drive homeover mountains to the sea, her dad films her, sends it to me—pushing the toy shopping cart I gave her, with only a diaper for clothes,she announces to dolls, to corridor walls, I’m here!I’m here!I’m here! A presence I hear ringing so loudly here,among towering hemlocks, I look to see who’s speaking—not the crow overhead,nor snow, hills, nor limb breaking in wind, this ringing I hear buying groceriesfrom a masked cashier, as I pass friends entering as I exit, all of us hurryingto somewhere else, the ringing I hear looking into my wife’s eyes as I serveher coffee—I realize the one singing I’m here!I’m here!I’m here! —is me. Shifting Sands I remember choosing and paintingthe sky-blue I haven’t noticed since,as I study the porch ceiling after my fall—sprawled, legs up in the air,suspended, like a dead bug,yoga pose gone awry— in the kind of pain that grabs youlike an angry yelling voice,takes space inside your being.I wait—for I knowit will change, the everydaywill return, a shift away from the grip of somethinglarger than myself,wondering what Clara will sayas she runs to me—Laura,this isn’t normal! We had been rushingto her visit with the oncologist,but now she, bald and weak,pushes me, in a wheelchair,to her appointment, as we ponderthe ever-shifting sands of normal. Laura Foley is the author of seven poetry collections. Why I Never Finished My Dissertation received a starred Kirkus Review, was among their top poetry books of 2019, and won an Eric Hoffer Award. Her collection It's This is forthcoming from Salmon Press in 2021. Her poems have won numerous awards, and national recognition—read frequently by Garrison Keillor on The Writers Almanac; appearing in Ted Kooser’s American Life in Poetry. A volunteer chaplain, Laura lives with her wife, Clara Gimenez, among the hills of Vermont.