Linda Parsons’ poems “Midsummer” and “Summers Ago” drew me like a moth to a light for the way they connect the poet's inner life with
wonder for the natural world. In this cold season, she kindles memories of warmer times when those jewel-winged cicadas and furry moths
wove into the tapestry of our own worlds.
"Midsummer" and "Summers Ago"
Under the old redbud in the boulevard,
sound umbrellas our heads, lifted as to thunder,
Near oh near, they cry above us, and together,
though deaf in their midst, we speak the names
we have learned in lives brief and long. Cicada,
says my granddaughter, given by her mother.
Jarflies, I counter, word my grandmother broke
with half-runners on newsprint spread in our laps,
far, so far on that glider, that porch, those burnished
evenings. In the dying down, the four-year-old
affirms the stamp of science: ci-ca-da, not yet
surefooted in the gloaming, the papers we’ll flatten
with corn shucks, oilcan she’ll fetch for our rocking
to and fro. In the new ringing, like all deepness
wrung from pitched joy, we look and look
for the red eyes, the jewel wings, near,
oh near in the shattered still-lit night.
Wings and wings
of summers ago, millers and cabbage moths
bartered for a minute more on this bright earth,
greedy hopes flung night after night at the porch
lamp. Globe heaped high, nearest their one hot
desire, thorax and antennae like the bony dead
in hunger times and war.
To spark the new bulb,
I scoop handfuls from the socket, flutter
hundreds to nandina and spurge, wiping
my hands of silvery lives. In nervous flight
over ticking grasses, in waning incandescence,
summers past sawed a fiddle-dee-dee.
We bargain the same,
for one day more in the sweetest arms
Brief filaments redeemed in a pool of amber,
driven ever toward the light, we batter
our constant hearts against the screen,
winter’s gray rattle circling.
"Midsummer" and "Summers Ago" appear in This Shaky Earth, Texas Review Press, 2016
Both poet and playwright, Linda Parsons is an editor at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. She served as poetry editor of Now & Then magazine for many years and has received literary fellowships from the Tennessee Arts Commission, as well as the Associated Writing Programs' Intro Award and the 2012 George Scarbrough Award in Poetry, among others. Parsons' poetry has appeared in journals such as The Georgia Review, Iowa Review, Prairie Schooner, Southern Poetry Review, Asheville Poetry Review, and Shenandoah and in numerous anthologies. This Shaky Earth, published by Texas Review Press, is her fourth poetry collection. Her dramatic adaptation, Macbeth Is the New Black, co-written with Jayne Morgan, was produced at Maryville College and Western Carolina University. Her play Under the Esso Moon was selected for the Tennessee Stage Company's 2016 New Play Festival and will receive a staged reading in 2017. Parsons' work is leavened with a hunger to understand the upheavals of childhood and its growing pains, to be fed full to bursting on life's vegetable immensity, to face the passing seasons with grace, where all she knows of this black-eyed earth is perishing even as it flowers.