the museum of americana

a literary review

Two Poems — by Susan J. Erickson

 
Lucy Audubon Wearies of Coping with Poverty
and Her Husband’s Rambling Ways, 1821

 
Hopes are shy birds flying at a great distance.
Your remark, dear husband, is also true

of money which flies Away From
not toward this family.  Your two young sons

             (shall they be clothed in feathers?)

and I fend for ourselves while you—
great-footed hawk, black-bellied darter,

magnolia warbler—migrate in pursuit
of Ornithological obsessions.  From New Orleans

you send me Queen’s Ware dishes.  Oh, John,
I am anything but queenly:

no table of my own to set, family silver
gone to bankruptcy, four teeth pulled.

                          (Gaping holes, John.)
 
*Note: Quote is by John Audubon
 
 
 
In New Orleans, the Audubons
Sit for Silhouette Cuttings, 1825

 

Swift and sure as a swallow,
Mr. Edwards’ scissors dart

             –snip, snip
             in and out–

along the black paper.  Voila!
The countenance of my husband
emerges—

             at his neck, soft curls
                    combed with my fingers
                    clipped by my scissors
             forehead of a dreamer
             Gallic nose from his papa
             chin of a determined general.

We are agreed—John must go.
Soon he will sail to England.
America cannot engrave his life-sized
vision: The Birds of America.

My turn.  I sit still.
The scissors know only
the shape of what is,
not what will be.

 
~ ~ ~
EricksonSusan J. Erickson’s poems appear recently in 2River ViewCirqueCrab Creek Review, Raven ChroniclesSwitched-on-GutenbergKnockout Literary Review,Floating Bridge Review and The Lyric.  She lives in Bellingham, Washington where she helped establish the Sue C. Boynton Poetry Walk.   She is working on a manuscript of poems in women’s voices.

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