Three Poems by Patricia Wellingham-Jones 


On a continent's rough edge
sputtering to sea,
your beach: shivers of oat grass,
ripening blueberries, granite
shoreline stitched into a quilt
fragrant in silver, green, blue.

Place of solitude. Just you
and seabirds keen in the wind,
stunned to stillness by roar
of incoming waves. Here where you gather
shreds of your soul,
where you rarely bring
a trusted friend, you brought me.

I, flown on travel, some fleeting success,
rattled with fervor, loud insistence.
Echoes of that voice
bounced on graven stone.
You drifted, blown by sea mist
to a far bay. To silence. You returned
in sharp-tongued sorrow.

The beach will remain
until the sea
chews it to dust,
the friendship eroded
in one sunlit afternoon.


In the country garden
we eat the last navel orange
from our tree.
Frost melts just after dawn
on the north side of the house
and I see the first gaunt
man with knapsack
on my way into town.
Soon the shelter beds
will be empty.
Soon the riverbanks
will be covered
with lupines and poppies
and bedrolls.
Soon California&Mac226;s roadsides
will be stitched
with men
walking with their hunger
in the endless belt of transit
from border to border.


Four lanes under construction,
two lanes open, gullies deep on the side.
Lumbering trucks follow dump trucks.
We follow at nerve-stretched pace.
Children in school uniforms
skip through rubble, flash hands
in complicated waves
over big smiles for the tourists.

A young driver whips his beat-up Ford
around us, his salsa pulsing
rhythm to the road din.
Shrieks and backpacks dive into ditches.
Children's dark heads pop up, gopher-like,
on the far side of the road,
their bright laughter
mocking our stopped hearts.

© Patricia Wellingham-Jones

PWJ Publishing PO Box 238 Tehama CA 96090,  

BIO: Former psychology researcher, writer, editor, lecturer, Patricia Wellingham-Jones has most recently been published in Tiger's Eye, Möbius, Liberty Hill Poetry Review, San Gabriel Valley Poetry Quarterly, Edifice Wrecked and Niederngasse. She won the Reuben Rose International Poetry Prize (Israel) in 2003.