The opening bars of Schumann’s Fantasiestücke gentle
the leading edge of evening, as broomsedge turns rose-gold
in the slow descent of sun. Somewhere invisible, a redwing’s shi-ree!
pierces a measure of “Des Abends,” like coming home. And that time —
you recall, a half-smile salting memory — the maestro lost total control
of his baton? One mug of tea steams beside our feet on the railing.
Chamomile, perfect accompaniment to the piano’s subtle voicings …
The mood changes as the music shifts tracks, tumbling “Very fast”
through the next, fervid vignette of Opus 12, then “Slow and tender”
for a few recorded minutes of “Warum.” Why? — And that idiot
tried to tell me I should only be playing Bach! But you couldn’t
stand Baroque, though you mastered every genre practice taught you,
Handel to Hanon; Debussy, Satie, Glass; Rachmaninoff. Look!
There’s a heron, landing by the pond. “Traumes Wirren,”
dream’s confusions, scatter nervous sixteenth-notes across its path.
Once — you were eight and apprehensive, always last-chosen
for any team — when a softball connected with the middle
of your forehead, hard, you flinched a little, but you held
your ground. Stood staring at the bat: the wooden, third arm
that had betrayed you. Out! and benched. The moment fled.
Sometimes, you say, I still feel rain between my fingers. (Blackbirds
soaring through the trills of Mozart, until . . .) “With good humor,”
and not a little chutzpah, Schumann’s last, disc-spun keyboard fantasy
reaches a quiet end. Dusk comes nearer. Beneath a layered, gray-blue coda
that seems to echo its final, triple-soft transition, the sky burns red.
By Susan Militzer Luther
Memories of Note
Dreams sometimes abandon the present for what’s not at hand. They venture into fantasy, whether fashioned to individual gratifi- cations or communal ideals. We envision better things for the future — a new car, world peace: what we haven’t achieved. Many entrants
address these aspirations.
But memory can be the stuff of dreams too, offering both departure
and arrival, “[t]he moment fled,” and a “coming home,” to borrow
from Susan Militzer Luther’s winning poem, “Phantom Limb.” Composer Robert Schumann’s Fantasiestücke — whose very title suggests
dreams — interweaves a conversation between the speaker and a
“you,” a pianist, it seems. And with Luther and Schumann, “[t]he
mood changes as the music shifts.” The poem’s recounting becomes a
reimagining of memories; the past is at once recovered and untouchable: a phantom limb, the coda’s end. Luther writes: “Sometimes, you
say, I still feel rain between my fingers.” To dream the past is to be both
re-membered and ghosted.
In runner-up Patricia Clark’s “Dreaming of Travel,” the sojourner
admits, “For all my motion, I haven’t limped / very far.” So the
speaker imagines in her “gray journey” an alternative “blazing” self,
“a ghost / [that] comes stumbling past, my doppelganger, my twin, /
beret clapped on her head.” Clark’s doppelganger, like Luther’s phantom limb, evokes how integral and yet how other dreams are.
Both poems end with fire; “the sky burns red” in Luther’s and
“flames, fallen embers melting ice” in Clark’s. Fitting, as to dream,
Clark observes, is to hold within us “a thimble of fire that burns.”
Susan Militzer Luther has published several collections of poetry as
well as poems and prose in many academic and small-press journals and
anthologies. she won Poetic Pause in spring 2010 and was a runner-up in
summer 2009. A working writer and writing teacher, Luther earned English
degrees from Louisiana state university (b.A.), her Phi Kappa Phi chapter,
university of Alabama in Huntsville (M.A.), and Vanderbilt university (Ph.D.).
born and raised in Lincoln, Neb., she has lived in Huntsville, Ala., for many
years. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sandra Meek (Colorado state university) is an award-winning author
of four collections of poems including, most recently, Road Scatter
(Persea books, 2012), which will be discussed in the forthcoming fall
edition. Meek also edited the anthology Deep Travel: Contemporary
American Poets Abroad (Ninebark Press, 2007). she received a 2011
creative writing fellowship in poetry from the National Endowment
for the Arts and has twice been Georgia Author of the Year. Meek is a
cofounding editor of Ninebark, director of the Georgia Poetry Circuit, and Dana Professor
of English, Rhetoric and Writing at berry College.
Attention, poets: The poetry contest is open to active Society members,
published or unpublished. Submissions — one per entrant per issue — should be
up to 40 lines long and must reflect the theme of the edition. One original, previously unpublished poem is selected for the printed version. Runners-up may appear online. The fall theme is “Funny Business.” Entry deadline is midnight,
June 11, only by email at email@example.com. For complete rules and
details, go online to www.phikappaphi.org/poetry.
For runner-up Patricia Clark’s poem “Dreaming of travel,” go online to