This Morning
by Bonnie Bolling

Another morning and I wake
hungry for something I cannot name.  
I walk out to the grass and everywhere
there are gifts—the tree hangs with
lemons, the wisteria weeps lavender
sugar and the crimson face of the rose
opens and nods, kindly offering itself
to me and I know I am not fine like the
ruffled skirt of the peony or tireless as the
early black ant, nor am I essential as rain,
but I can look at the world through eyes
still darkened by dreams and know
it is enough to stand barefoot in awe
when night birds grow silent and     
the air shines blue in the sun.

by Bonnie Bolling

The other husbands might drift into the yard
to smoke or drink whiskey, laughing a little
or practicing swings but mostly you swung
out there alone.  I washed dishes, shelled peas
on the porch or nursed a boy in the rocker to
the whooshing sound of a balanced carbonate
club slicing the blue air, to the resounding pock
as it addressed the small ball at your feet and then
to the muttered curse that followed.
You were good at it.  That one summer
you swung against the wind, against uneven
odds, against yourself or maybe against
the advancing shadows, not wanting to
come in a house filled with children and clutter,
twisting your shoulder again and again
until it ached, dropping your hip and pivoting the
toe of your sneaker, each time following through.
From the steps I watched you retreat into the
quiet trees fetching balls, setting them atop
chipped wooden tees and aligning your feet
well after evening had lowered on the lawn,
yet still you stared hard at the ball, swinging
and swinging in the dark, as if your place
in the world was defined by flawless connections,
by invisible arcing of small white orbs
sailing over and into the deep sea of grass.

by Bonnie Bolling

                              Even the wind wishes
                              to become a cart
                              pulled by butterflies.
                              (Translated from the Arabic by Khaled Mattawa)

A murder of crows attacked the fruit
the trees were dropping on the yellow grass
soggy and rotten lemons and limes and
blue-hued swallowtails emerged to
beat their wings dry in the heat, then
the damp tongue of fog lifted at last
curling back to the maw of the sea.
Swiftly she moved through
the hall of the house like a vessel
her breasts naked and heavy with milk
beneath the robe she’d made herself
sewn together with bitterness and wool,
her hands proficiently peeling potatoes
killing ants on the countertop, making him come
or boiling the kettle on the stove for tea.
Images from the television jerked and blurted in the room
where the man she occasionally remembered to love
sat holding a clean shirt in one hand and
thoughtfully stroking his chin with the other
and she looked at him sitting there, on the stained sofa
the newspaper a messy heap at his feet
and one child was crying, one was full of infection
one latched onto her nipple and another child’s cells
were dividing inside her but she was too thirsty
and days were too short so pacing a groove
in the wood kitchen floor, a book in one hand
washing and nursing and waiting—
she was always listening for something
as impossible as the small un-sound
of a million butterflies trembling by.


Bonnie Bolling lives in Long Beach with her family.  She is a long-time
student of poetry and novel workshops at Long Beach City College,
where she is the editor of
Verdad.  One of her poems was chosen as a
finalist for the 2007 Rita Dove Poetry Award and she has won two
Donald Drury Awards.  Her work has been published in
, Chickasaw Plum, Verdad, Poetic Diversity, and others.  
Her current projects are a novel called
The Book of Ruth, and a
collection of poetry.  When she isn’t writing poems or re-writing her
novel, she enjoys conversations with her sons, sipping wine, and
window-shopping with her sisters.

On “This Morning,” “Bucket of Balls,” and “Unliving”:    
When I begin a poem, I like to focus on a bit of landscape that I
have been observing, or sometimes on a particular moment.  I work
to isolate and slow every aspect of a thing until it seems to stop
entirely, meditating on the natural world that struggles alongside
each of us, while trying to incorporate something of the human
condition.  If I am able to somehow render the poem so that the
perception draws on the familiar, and ultimately through the music
of language, also delves into some deeper, darker, place—well,
those poems, I believe, are the better poems.  These poems are
from my first collection, to be called
Kingdom of the Sons.  In these
poems I believe I am “standing” in a place of significance.  I am
“standing” inside my life.   

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Apple Valley Review:
A Journal of Contemporary

ISSN 1931-3888

Volume 2, Number 2
(Fall 2007)

Copyright © 2007
by Leah Browning, Editor.  

All future rights to material
published in the
Valley Review
are retained
by the individual authors
and artists.
Bucket of Balls