Poems by Gilbertson


Sweet Psalm

Good lost word, succor.
As an infant mouth pulls
sweet need from the breast.
Sucker:  that child,
or a loser.  Or a gull—
someone fooled.  Gull’s
a sea grace too, a diving
shelter wing.  Sucker:
sweet on a stick.  Sticky.
Dive and warm me, sweet
Grace.  Feed me, help me.
Don’t fool me, don’t lose me.
Be my succor.  Stick to me.

Christian Century, February 12, 2008

* * * 


Showering, I soap my thigh
before my back
and the washcloth arm
hangs like a broken wing.
And so it goes: alter the template
and every body halts in wonder,
dyslexia of the flesh, the leg
drawn into a sleeve, a shoe raised
to the foot before the sock is on,
the alarm shut off before bed,
jam put away before the toast is done,
a smirk in the moment for grief,
the apology offered
before the insult.

Concho River Review, Spring 2006

* * *

Setting Out
(for Ellen)

Today the sky wept toward winter,
softening leaf-husks on sidewalks.
I think of you girls years ago
hand-in-hand in the yard
leaving for grade school—
your sister aimed forward
but you pulling back,
your head tilted toward the window,
toward my face, while slow rain
made spots on your coats. 
You are there in the yard,
small in your shoes,
walking away as you must—
but in my dreams your eyes accuse.
You are leaving and leaving,
and always I am the one
making you go.

Pebble Lake Review, Fall/Winter 2005. Finalist, Pebble Lake Review Poetry Contest.  

* * * 

Ash Wednesday

no bicep, no bone, no lung
and no cheek, so lean, not
even breath not even earth—
humus, placental—nothing
but dust nothing but ash
burnt up consumed—
not the predominant water
no song and no sound
no taste and no touch no hunger
not even age-lame or deaf
not even tomb-bound and rotting
no pain yes but also no feeling
no hope and no hunger
the end of I and I think
not I hurt or even am nothing
no cross on the forehead
no forehead no
thing at all.

Christian Century, February 2008

* * * 

July at the Cabin

I make cookies,
but forget the spices,
then leave out the sugar
in my coffee cake.

A bear and then a fox
cross the road
like old friends from town,
and the bald eagle sits
in our ponderosa.

The blue lake is clean,
the water cool, and the pine resin
sings its honey song.
Mock orange in full bloom.

We eat ripe plums
and read a book aloud,
and the words make
us laugh and talk.

How can we add
any more sweetness
to our lives?

Pearl, Spring/Summer 2007, as “Sweet July.” 

* * * 


After months without song
or sight of wing,
I sweep aside the curtains
and suddenly one stops
on the winter-bare honeysuckle
inches from the window.

Then, as if arranged,
another lands just below.
They sit on their twigs,
facing different directions
without speaking,
and yet each delicate body
seems to ruffle slightly.

in the living room at night
when you and I sit
faced into different books,
one lamp-lit body
shifts slightly in its chair,
sensing across the room
the other’s warmth,
the soft flight within. 

New Millennium Writings, 2010.  Honorable Mention, Summer 2008 New Millennium Writings Poetry Competition

* * * 

All these poems are included in my chapbook,  From a Distance, Dancing, forthcoming from Finishing Line Press.  NOTE:  To pre-order a copy of the chapbook, go to http://www.finishinglinepress.com/, click on Pre-Order Forthcoming Books, and scroll through the list of books (listed alphabetically by author's last name) to find my book.  Cost is $14 plus shipping ($1.49).