Open 2023 Poems - Marianne Tefft


By Marianne Tefft


We planted those birches outside the gate the week you were born
They were beautiful in summer as we sat on the deck
Waiting for the Vidalias to caramelize on the grill
We watched you climb atop your playhouse
To leap from its pink roof into the silver shade of dusk
They were beautiful in autumn as you stood on the deck
Of the neighborhood Olympic pool lips blue
Mummy-wrapped in towels
Waving goodbye to summer vacation
And they were beautiful in winter
As our breath billowed against the French doors to the backyard
You tapped your little fists along the hoary glass
To make dimpled footprints on the panes
Those souvenirs are long gone and your father too
But the birches are still beautiful in spring
With their hopeful rosaries of green
Outside the gate of the house where you were born


Memorial Day

Springtime stories in the daily press
Piled like blood-encrusted tinder
For incendiary salvoes across party lines
My friend’s son stands in the crossfire
And self-immolates
Extinguished on the job
His only blessing death
Before his body struck the ground
Performing his chosen work
For the craven
Those who permit other men’s sons
To self-destruct among neat rows of desks
Where they die on the job
Performing children’s work
For them no heroes’ farewell
No Gold Star
This week or ever
That unsought prize honors my friend
Who excavates his soul each day
For Sisyphean strength to rise again
As life unspools by the millisecond
We bury our fists in our eyes
Against the tidal bore that inundates us
But we will not let it suffocate our righteous rage
Or stifle our inflamed voices
Not this time


Marianne Tefft is a poet and voiceover reader who daylights as a Montessori teacher on the Dutch Caribbean island of Sint Maarten. Her poems appear online and in print in the U.S., Canada, the U.K., Serbia, India and Sint Maarten. She is the author of the poetry Collections Full Moon Fire: Spoken Songs of Love and Moonchild: Poems for Moon Lovers.


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