"... Suddenly I am a city witch
I feel the secret Mona Lisa curl
Reveal itself at the corner of my mouth ..."


Margery recommends these on line literary sites.


Ms. Snyder


Margery Snyder reads "For Samuel"

Margery Snyder

Love Your Mother

_____for Wendell Berry & Gary Snyder

Stop, they say, stop moving around
Simply stay in one place, live inside
Its particular habits and cycles, stay
Long enough to learn the steps
Of the pattern dance Gaia does
In this single place in the world
Be seduced by its homely beauty, fall
In love, fall into symbiosis. . .

Love Your Mother, Love Your Mother
I love this place I've chosen, I've stopped
But when I see that mantra on a bumper
I must -- always -- stop walking
To wonder how we can love the earth
And drive a car? And what if the spot
We linger in, fall into a waltz with --
What if our garden is urban?

I have drifted into a city symbiosis
Rooted here, crave this view of the sky
This particular air in my lungs
This patch of sea-misted pavement
Scents of eucalyptus, cedar and sea
The ocean breathing in and out the Gate
The way this sun falls across your face
In the late afternoon at our table.

But that light shines reflected off
Metallic window shades in the Van Ness
Medical Building, not Half Dome
These grasses bunch in sidewalk cracks
No prairies range across these seaside hills
If there is any crop in this garden
It must be all these people: they surge
And collide, variegated human tide.

They do not stop, they do not love
The breathing dirt beneath these oiled streets
They do not love their human mothers
Worship chance, currency, codes
Marking their skins with labels
As their kind have encased the earth
In a sheath of electrical networks,
Concrete buildings, human cultures. . .

Culture, cultivation - shall I put my hand
To this soil, rub between finger and thumb
The compost that gathers in this corner
Make a garden between these walls
Conjunction of hand and chlorophyll
Love my Mother sleeping beneath
These pipes, these wires, these sewers
Bring Her face to the light in a box

Of marigolds hung beneath my window?
It is one among many, stacked high
I am one among many, but I tend
These shoots, I am tender
And I love the Mother I've chosen
In naming this one particular place --
Paved and barren as it may seem --
Garden. . . it shall be my garden.

For Samuel

In the grays of sound-shadow
Cast on video screen
Your tiny hand splayed
Then curled again shut
Before your unformed face
Your neck turned to inspect
As though myopic, your palm.
I thought I saw you
Marveling at its prescient lines
Its lovely construction
Its sensation of life.
I counted myself privileged
To have met you then
Tiny astronaut floating
Not yet breathing on your own
In the grays of sound-shadow.

Now, I have only this of you:
A picture of my sister
And the man she loves
Standing at your grave
In the silence after
All that could have been
Said was said, her head turned
Downward on his shoulder
Two figures melded in silhouette
A newly singular parent-being.
Having knelt each alone
To tip spade, hear clods fall
They stand together, no stray
Light between their outlines
Black and tall against a soft sky
At seaside mountain crest.

We have only this of you,
Boy that might have been:
Breeze rustling eucalyptus,
Bee bumbling in new-turned dirt,
Too-small white damask box
And this breathless hush,
Every eye drawn down
Inexorably, from the vision
Of standing man-woman-in-one
To the small hole dug in earth
Where they have placed
The hopes and wishes
From which they made you.
We are all astronauts here
Hovering breathless, scared
On the oh, so thin shell of earth

Between this air, this bee,
This dirt, this box,
These tears
And the yawning void,
The empty space
Where you would have been,
The shadow
Of your tiny hand.

Sinister, This City Street

Sinister, this city street, this morning
It's nothing, really. . . like sandpaper between
My cold teeth, a scratchy smog-lit sky
Ordinary shapes around me changing
Showing their shadowed back sides. . .
That woman running, she's quite lovely
Long tweed coat floating after her long legs
Her hair unfurls like a flag in the wind of her passing
But she radiates worry, she bites her lip
Her jaw crackles like a raw-end wire
She cannot feel her own physical grace
Dashes past the man at the newspaper box
And he, too, comes under the contagion
City streets' bitter, gritty, hungover morning taste. . .
He jiggles the handle, furtive, glancing up
As if he's hunted, sure some sinister force
Will cross his shoulder, stop him taking
The paper he wants us to think he's paid for
The blonde's breathless passing, trolley's arrival
My eyes, are all too much for him
He jumps away, a startled rabbit, and I board. . .
On the bus another tweed-swathed woman
Smiles up at her leather-gloved companion
Seconds pass before I sense the field around
These two, know she is his servant even here
Inside the domination bubble I see
She hates him, she is obedient and shamed
Behind those too-red painted lips, pursed
In the universal pout, slave's sour distaste
I taste it in my own mouth, nearly turn
For the door to escape obligation
And find myself transfixed in the palsied gaze
Of the man in the back center seat
His huge head hangs to the side, he grins
A bemused Bassett hound, absent-mindedly
Wiggles his blunt fingers and eyes me sideways
He cannot be all there, I know, but even he
Has that knowing look, wary arrows of radar
Paranoia, he's ridden this route before
I breathe it in, feel the warm sickly sandy heat
Spread through my limbs, adrenalin
Animal eyes attuned to this sinister city street
We all know each other this way -- some are
Predators, some prey -- we avert our eyes
But recognize the nameless other
We share the acrid flavor in our veins
We are all rushing past
Our own shivers
To anyplace warm at all.

Still, recognition is subtle, elusive --
I see these monsters, these oddities
These frail and force-fed lives on the street
And I am ready to see greed, panic, envy
Killing rage in every human eye I meet
It is a magic I practice, transformation
Each one caught in the sticky web
Cast in the mold of this particular morning. . .
And then one surprises me, makes of me
A dweller among marvels, eyes wide. . .
I step inside a building, find myself
Still breathing the streets' contagious air
Carry it in me into an elevator car
Eye the other woman and her choice of floors
She will not ride as high as I
Note her wary eyes and wonder how far
I will have to ride alone with the man
Who now enters the car, green coveralls
Name at his breast, keys at his belt
He's whistling, does not seem to see us
I tense, I've been attacked before
The other woman seems to shiver, but when
Her floor arrives and she seizes the relief
Of exit, I realize. . . it's Italian opera
Genuine joy, the work rhythms of a happy man
In his mouth, and the spell turns
With the earth, breaks the morning's mold
And sets us free on the lilting melody
He so energetically whistles for me
Suddenly I am a city witch
I feel the secret Mona Lisa curl
Reveal itself at the corner of my mouth
I ride all the way up that lift
Rising, rising
Past my own shivers
To the sun.