Leah at Two: Octoberfest
Elmo and Sponge Bob were there
and a fairy princess in pink and white net,
Spiderman and clowns,
and pumpkins too,
and scarecrows in chewed-up felt hats.
But Leah, with a hot dog in her left hand,
a jug of blue juice in her right, couldn’t take
her eyes off the monster
she didn’t have a name for yet: Grim Reaper
–hooked nose, red eyes, black cloak,
bloody cardboard scythe–and two paces
behind him a pint-sized double.
From the pony ride, the plastic bubble
trampoline, the haystacks she kept lookout
for the monster. Then he was in front of her
coming closer. She dug into her pocket
for the handful of stones she’d collected,
was about to fling them in his direction,
when he suddenly squatted
and tied the shoelaces
of his side-kick sitting on a bench.
Look, she shouted, he’s a Daddy,
and dismissed him as only a child can.
My Life as an Artist
When I was eight,
I spent Saturday mornings at Mrs. Hoy’s
leafing through books and magazines
for a picture to copy – bird, Dutch boy skating,
sailboat, red barn and silo.
Your daughter is gifted, Mrs. Hoy would say
as my mother wrote another tuition check.
Standing at my easel, Mrs. Hoy was less kind.
If you tried harder, you could do this.
With swift brush, she’d paint my watercolor
to her liking, then insist I sign my name in the corner.
To please my mother, I continued this charade
until staring at the perfect scarlet tanager
in our hall, my mother thought to say,
Why don’t you ever draw this well at home?
So ended my life as a watercolorist.
The following winter, my mother hired Fred.
He taught a class in oils around a pot-bellied stove
in the cluttered space above his garage.
Frantic, I painted still life–orange pear cup bowl–
convinced hot coals and fumes would set the place
on fire. Your daughter has a real passion for art,
Fred told my mother.
I begged her to let me take piano lessons.
Lake Carnegie, Late Afternoon
slips below the tree line.
College oarsmen, stroke by stroke,
slice ever-graying water.
On the road, arms awhirl,
a legless man, wheelchair-bound,
placard round his neck
–I’m a homeless Vet.
All race against the fading light,
resolute on course.
One outwitting midnight’s chill,
others to the boathouse.
Nancy Scott is the current managing editor of U.S.1 Worksheets, the journal of the U.S.1 Poets’ Cooperative. Her poems have appeared in Witness, Journal of New Jersey Poets, The Ledge, Sliptstream, Out of Line, Slant, and other literary journals, and online at Cultural Logic. Her first book of poetry, Down to the Quick (Plain View Press) was published in 2007.