Marge Piercy

Bags of manure are lying

like dead pigs all over the garden.

The cold dropped its hammer last night

flattening them to the ground

as it froze to black cement.

Volunteers are picking up inert

sea turtles. If they are washed

ashore in the daylight, they will

probably live. If they are night

jetsam, they will die before dawn.

The cold has caught us off guard,

the greens withered stiff with

frost, the leeks stuck in their

mounds, the cabbages hardened

to green rocks that will collapse.

We didn’t want winter this soon.

We damage the seas, we melt

glaciers, we cook the skies

but still weather shocks us

with storms that change our world.

Marge Piercy

My parents bought a swaybacked

summer cottage on a weedy lake

an hour out of Detroit–an area

now suburban tract houses.

My father began by installing plumbing–

a bathroom instead of an outhouse,

running water in the kitchen

instead of a pump, although

not being the cook, I loved

pumping water and having

it magically surge from under

ground, cold as winter on my hands.

But he never stopped. Until

the day they sold it, twenty-five

years later, it was a construction

site, walls torn down and rebuilt,

the roof replaced and shingled

again, porches coming and going.

In the kind of speeded-up photo-

graphy they use to show flowers

opening, this original shack

without real internal walls,

just partitions, would have grown

and shrunk again before your eyes,

madly tossing parts into the wind.

I hated going there, always banging,

wheelbarrows of wet cement. Pipes

and electric drills were the decorative

motif. I never understood: it was

like the electric train set he played

with in our basement, adding a village,

a bridge, a switchman with a lantern:

it was his toy, a place where he

was master instead of worker—

where what he imagined grew

solid under his knowing hands.

Marge Piercy has published 17 books of poetry, including What Are Big Girls Made Of, Colors Passing Through Us, and, most recently, The Crooked Inheritance, all from Knopf. She has written 17 novels, most recently Sex Wars, now in Harper Perennial paperback, as is her memoir, Sleeping With Cats. Schocken published her book Pesach for the Rest of Us. Her work has been translated into 16 languages. Her CD, Louder We Can't Hear You Yet, contains her political and feminist poems. She had been an editor of Leapfrog Press for ten years until the press was sold three springs ago; she is the poetry editor of Lilith. These poems are her third and fourth on Anderbo.

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