I first met Blynn when I was invited to join a critique group, The Jabberwocks, in which she was a member. That was maybe eight years ago and I’ve been captivated by her ever since.
She’s refined like someone raised with social graces one doesn’t see much anymore, and has a dancer’s carriage. Her poems reflect that appreciation for art and beauty as she writes of museums and cathedrals in Paris. But she’s also at home in the woods and her beloved Maine.
In Blynn’s poems we’re transported with her in her sensory details, her desire and ability for finding just the right word to show the textures of those places.
From Whale Watch Cottage, published by Main Street Rag Publishing, posted with the poet’s permission.
Grandpa Sighted a Whale,
So the Story Goes
in the sound before he built the cottage.
The slippery merman was off course,
a nor’easter having roiled the waters,
and Gramps distracted, his mind on
Picardy where Dad was in the trenches.
I picture the grey giant rising
and lunging far out – a phantom
fellow mammal, eager to commune
with men, seasoned sailors say.
He lifts the weight for both of them.
Since that favorable day, binoculars
stand ready on the windowsill, facing
sunsets, the longing always there to spy
precise answers, to discern
meanings we cannot fathom now.
Who Doesn’t Like a Country Auction?
We always take a picnic – egg salad sandwiches
on Anadama bread, slices of chocolate cake,
two thermoses – one of coffee, one of lemonade,
folding chairs or a blanket from the mill outlet store.
The setting often seems to be a sagging clapboard
farmhouse. Everything’s up for sale – equipment, horses,
barn, but we’ve come for housewares and to watch
wily auctioneer and stubborn antiques dealers skirmish.
If there’s a sealed box of items sold cheaply, “sight
unseen”, we sometimes buy, hoping it might contain
a diary or brooch. We’ll go home with a few
Victorian greeting cards, some postcards of familiar
places as they once appeared, small kitchen items,
like wooden butter presses or cutting boards,
a frayed quilt. Sometimes we surprise ourselves
by bidding with gusto on an early blanket chest,
painted buttermilk red, an Imari bowl, or once,
a pine daybed for ten dollars which we didn’t need,
resold right then and there to a local man for double
what we paid. The piece that means the most to us
is a wrought iron candle chandelier, rusty
when they put it in our hands. Now sanded, painted black,
it hangs over the trestle table, where grandchildren vie
to kindle or snuff out the flames.
In the Winter’s Welcome Shade
we follow the vestige of a logging road.
“Let’s sing a song, Gramma,” she insists
as we pick the berries the black bear missed.
We begin In the Forest Far Away until
I notice clucking near a decaying pine. Nine turkey
chicks feast on insects, unaware
of the Red-tailed hawk circling overhead.
Dogs bay in the valley and two deer
bound across our path. Stopped
by the pounding of their hooves, we stand
still and will them to safety. As we
reach open fields, she asks
for On Top of Old Smoky. We serenade
the grasses, the lichen, and plaited boysenberry
vines under our feet. For our bookcase
museum, we gather spruce
and hemlock cones, birch bark,
Purple Loosetrife, Devil’s Paintbrush, recall
how Papa Jack used to praise our collections.
On the way back to the cottage – her hand
in mine – she begins another tune.
Grandpa Sighted a Whale, So the Story Goes, previously published in Iodine, Fall/Winter 2010/2011
Blynn answers my questions ~
The first poem I ever wrote, I can’t remember, but I lived in an era when children were asked to memorize poems and the first poem I memorized was in the first grade and one that I’ve looked for but never found. It was an Italian Father telling his son why there was no school on Washington’s birthday. It began, “You know what for is school keep out this holiday my son? Well then I gonna tell you ’bout this Georgio Washington…” Then, at our Junior High graduation, I and about 4 others were asked to recite poetry. I recited Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s , “How do I love thee? Let me count the ways….” There were others in high school, and all made a deep impression on me.
Blynn’s photo by Alice Osborn.