Veronica's Garden

Rachel Creager Ireland on writing, living, the Flint Hills, and the Post Rock Limestone Caryatids

Category: Poetry

Witnessing the End

Autumn Hills

We were told that there would be difficulty,
betrayals, losses, and lack.
We expected to make sacrifices for
love and worthy causes. There
would be demagogues, tyrants, and
CEOs who lacked empathy.
And there would be beauty,
in a face or in art or in nature.
And we were taught to love these things,
to be comforted by them in times of
suffering. But did anyone tell you
there would be days you would
walk the streets openly weeping,
drowning in the world and the grief
of knowing you are witnessing the end.
It’s time to say goodbye to everything,
to giraffes and orcas, the butterflies
that migrate a thousand miles to share
warmth through the winter. To the wild
places that save us. To earth not driven
to hiding from relentless attack by those
who would plunder, extract, and leave
her for dead. And leave us for dead.
Say goodbye to life not owned by profiteers.
We were advised to remember
that time isn’t linear, and we are immortal
beings of light far greater than the
speck of dust we know here now. That
all these things we love are eternal,
in some way we cannot understand.
But still here I am, immersed in
sunlight on grassland in winter,
red-tailed hawk circling overhead.
And there’s a man from a city in Japan,
standing on the Kansas prairie weeping
to discover that there is still such beauty
in the world. Say goodbye to it all, my friend.
The voracious maw won’t stop until
every last drop of water has been tainted, every
wild animal eaten or caged. Every heart
and mind given over to the demagogue
and the masked man behind him. Say
goodbye with every breath and impulse,
every moment, every truck that passes
on the highway, every word or beat or
image clamoring for attention. Goodbye with
every step, walking hip deep in tall grass,
or pounding unyielding pavement of city streets,
or wandering the bright-lit aisles of a dollar store,
openly weeping.

Saturn Square Neptune

Everything at odds with everything else.
The refrigerator heats up the kitchen.
The air conditioner gives the kids nosebleeds
and the washer backs up the kitchen sink
and leaks water somewhere under the floor.
The clothesline runs through a gauntlet
of chiggers. Bug juice and sweat and
I shower and change into clean clothes.
Mud oozing up between the tiles.
And health insurance. Whole days lost
to the phone and the clock and the
checkbook. The premiums are
so high I can’t afford the deductible.
Maybe some yoga will detangle things
so I can write. I focus on my breath until
it’s too late to write. Do you see what I mean?
Sometimes everything hinges on
everything else, but sometimes everything
is a dog fight to the death
of everything else. And this blue-white light
through my core: is it lighting me
from within? Or splitting me apart?

Chiron Return

Let’s get this out in the open: I rush to publish earlier than is probably advisable. Last week I published a poem that I edited twice in the next two days, then revised it so substantially that it should probably get another post altogether.

If I come across as half-assed, and valuing my work beyond its worth, I’m okay with that. That’s what blogging’s all about, right? Take it or leave it.

But it appears some people actually do like my poetry. For you, enjoy.


Chiron Return

Did Chiron get fed up with the body
he’d been issued, that stubbornly refused
to heal? Did the master healer hope,
month after month, to find an efficacious
blend of herbs to stanch the bleeding,
or did he know this injury
would be the downfall of a demigod?
Did he struggle to comprehend
the incongruity of a wounded immortal?

Was he annoyed to hear humans claim
as identity afflictions that ought to have
healed decades ago? “I hate to cough because
sixty years ago I had pertussis.”

Did he see the forty-nine-year-old woman
with the heavy bleeding, the torpid thyroid,
incontinent bladder, presbyopia, insomnia,
and toothache—close his eyes, feel the throbbing
of his own nagging wound, and think,
this is what it’s like to be mortal?

Palermo house

To My Demented Friends

Sunrise Over Pond

a few seconds later

To the man who filled his basement to the ceiling
with boxes of meaningless things, because
“There’s money down there,” and
to the woman who said there had
formerly been a hill behind the house,
“. . . but it’s gone now . . .”—
I too live with unfathomable sense of loss,
a pool too deep to swim to the black depths.
Struggling to get to the bottom of things
(“Bring the darkness to light,” she said,
“not the other way around”) and desperate
to rise to the air. I’m not afraid
of the darkness down there, but I am afraid
of drowning.

Flight of Unknown Birds

For Lent I gave up writing, and being a writer, and talking and writing about writing. A friend asked why, and I told her I couldn’t tell her until Easter. Truth was, I wasn’t entirely sure myself. But it turns out I’m not that good at keeping a Lenten vow, so here’s my answer.

The Flight of Unknown Birds

Coming over the ridge in the winter-golden hills
light angling toward the endless horizon
as it only does in late winter in Kansas.
How is it I have come to love this place
so deep in my viscera, rooted in me
in a place before words. Bald eagle lifting
into flight. Blood splattered on the road.

I should hit the brakes, grab my camera,
shoot, but I’ve done that before at this very spot,
more than once. No photo ever satisfies.
Only this moment itself can express
this moment. All beauty is unspeakable;
truth, inexpressible. In the back seat
my daughter bends her head to a book,

I have tried to quit writing for the spite of it.
Even walking away from certain failure,
I know I’ll come back. The light in winter,
the flight of unknown birds: all existence
is poetry. There can be no being apart from it.
I’ll write long after I’m dead, until my bones
disintegrate into the earth.

Winter Prairie 3

Miley Cyrus and the Flaming Lips Cover Lucy In the Sky With Diamonds

He said, Miley Cyrus and the Flaming Lips,
it’s so weird, I don’t get it.
He said, is it just the drug thing?
She said, yeah.

She said, I’m having a flashback right now.
She sat back to enjoy the ride.
Any moment, there would be an
explosion of sound, even as
the surface of the pond was still,
smooth as glass, as a mirror.
The sun was setting in front
of the windshield, like watching
a show on a screen. Through
a screen, through the windscreen.
He said he’d played this song
for her before. She didn’t remember it.
It was familiar and new at the same time.
Deer foraging at the edge of the woods.
Behind her, voices, children singing.

When they got out of the car,
they all danced.

Driving Into Sunset

Lost Key

There was so much to do, but this frail,
aged cat wanted nothing more, lived for
nothing more than to sit in her lap
and bask in her attention.
And the violin over there in the corner,
it would like to be played.
The dishes in the sink were miffed
that they might be neglected.
“What about us,” cried the muscles, “you
haven’t stretched us in days. We need yoga.
And the mind agrees.”
Clutter chuckled. “You think the mind is going
to settle down, with us hovering all around?”
Bits of debris snickered on the rug.
In her heart, poems wept to be written.
The phone rang with a to-do list.
And somewhere, she was sure it was in this house,
a lost key whispered, find me.


kids with long shadows
It’s the 4th of July and we’re out with the kids
no really it’s the 8th, our days are so full we
do too much, we’re just now
in the long dusk and dry heat opening the bag
of fireworks, not big ones, sparklers and little spinners
that fly and throw sparks I’m careful to grind to ash
once they’ve fallen.
The kids are afraid but excited,
admonishing us, their parents, to take care
as we take turns lighting fuses
with a punk we pass back and forth.
There are always a couple duds, but they were cheap
and there are more. I collect bits of plastic and paper
off the gravel, thinking about faraway birds and oceans
though we are a thousand miles from saltwater. It all matters.
I see a star, really a planet, I think Venus.
I start to make a wish as I walk
to the highway to pick up a fallen parachute. “No, Mama, no!”
Their dad runs out to beat me to it, we all laugh. I look
back to that star planet
and wish for this now: some kind of suspension,
this sweet laughter in dusky light with children
and sparks that die before they reach the ground,
this moment to be eternal, if only in memory
in me in the higher dimensions of the mind
to be somehow always, forever endless now.

Reclaiming the Virago

The Wiccans give us three
feminine archetypes:
Maiden, Mother, Crone;
but haven’t we forgotten–
let’s call her the Virago,
let’s give a name to the woman
who has left the high-walled garden of childhood,

who walks the wide avenue of her life,
as yet unfenced by the fierceness of motherhood,
not yet narrowed by age and long-settled choices.

No maiden she,
her breasts in fullness of womanhood,
not softened by weight of sweet
suckling babes.

A woman who knows her mind.
A woman who knows her body
and how to pleasure a man when she chooses
or herself if she prefers.

(My sister-loving sisters, I do not mean to exclude you,
I’m simply not one of you.)
(My motherly sisters, I do not mean to exclude you,
for I am one of you, but)

for today let’s invoke the Virago.
She doesn’t need to be innocent.
She doesn’t need to be pure,
nor all-giving nor selfless nor
wizened with age.

Let this be another face we turn to:
Womanly, worldly, wise.
Feminine, frank, and free.
Come into your place in our hearts, dear Virago,
Come into your place in me.

Yeah, I Know One Limits One’s Audience By Making Astrology References In Poetry

December 3, 2012

Mars conjunct Pluto in my Capricorn Sun
making me feisty and it’s December 2012
and there’s no knowing what will be next
and I’ve been quaffing coffee
and things are getting G R A N D I O S E.

O Muse, abandon me not! There may yet be hope
I’ll rise up through the light
break my beating heart out of this rib cage and
belt out your brilliant song.

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