Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Tuesday Poem, "Story-teller Vine, Rega," Melissa Shook

Story-teller Vine, Rega

Woven twine stretches back-and-forth inside a small case
in the Museum's African section.
From it hang thin rawhide strings on which are tied:
worn, frayed bits of cloth; dried

grass bound by grass; a miniature bow laced with string;
three dried berrries on a tiny branch;
a few twigs; a paper wrapper; a tiny branch
coverd with thorns;

a piece of crumpled paper (writing bled dry); the bone
of a small animal; a block of wood
and notched stick;
and an advertisement printd on red.

Underneath, the label says "only the instructor can read"
the meaning of these objects to teach
the children of the tribe.

From my twine string hang
the puckered pink scar into my uterus; red plaid baby
shoes; a cluster of keys worthy of
a prison guard; the toy camera carved from wood;

a sunflower with an impossibly large brown center
populated by tiny black bugs;
red swimming goggles; a family album, images
fluttered to the ground; and a sack of co-mingled ashes.

Stories only I remember.

This was published in a chapbook that's available at www.puddinghouse.com


  1. Yes! Melissa (and Melissa). This is powerful indeed.

  2. Lovely, Melissa,

    'Naming these things is the love act and its pledge,' so saith Kavanagh, and who could argue with him in your instance.

    And welcome back.

  3. as you know, this has been one of my favorites of your poems. i love the image of the story-telling vine; fingering each talisman, telling the story, moving on to the next...

  4. Poignant, dear Melissa.:

    Your keepsakes: I believe they represent a break from your 'tribe'. A collections of items, each with a story. Yet evocative without the stories. Vital because it's such a surprising miscellany. The voice in the poem holds them together somehow!

    That "miniature bow laced with string"--has got me thinking. Was I ever instructed about an implement that would help me survive when I was old enough to use it? Were you?

    I'm looking forward to reading Magritte's Reader!