Episode 022: Tea Leaves and Tastykake

Present at the Editorial Table:

Kathleen Volk Miller

Marion Wrenn

Tim Fitts

Sara Aykit

PBQ Box Score: 3=0

For this episode, we look at three poems by Laura Sobbott Ross.

Laura Sobbott Ross

Laura Sobbott Ross

Laura Sobbott Ross lives in a rural, hilly part of inland Florida where horses and hothouses of orchids abound. She loves to take pictures on long drives through the open land, and to sing to the radio with the windows wide, which conjures threats from her teenagers, but her dogs don’t seem to mind. You will find paint on her clothes at any given time. She’s taught English to students from dozens of countries, and has two poetry chapbooks: A Tiny Hunger (YellowJacket Press) and My Mississippi (Anchor & Plume Press.)

First, we’re transported to the sunny beaches of “Bora Bora,” where we find ourselves with some trouble in paradise. We follow that off trying to decipher “The Walrus in the Tea Leaves,” where we’re left with more questions than answers. And finally, we throwback to The Eagles’ “Hotel California” with “Déjà Vu.” Even though we do check in, we’re not so sure if we ever want to leave!

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Don’t forget to read on!

 

 

 

 

Bora Bora

    1996

A shaft of blue splintered into a thousand

nuances, shed them into the sea beneath our tiki hut—

wedged on stilts into hunger clouds of shimmery fish,

oysters lipping black pearls. We married there,

on the shore between the neon chakra of sky & water,

a handful of drowsy natives shaking New Year’s Eve from

the folds of their pareos. Dancing, a tide etched in sand.

Later, petal-strung in whites already sighing into sepia,

from our balcony we sought those old stars from home.

Palm trees swaying festively in dark silhouette across

the unadorned horizon of the Pacific. Love, a sugared rim

we shared in sips, cowry shells strung and whispering

at our throats, every edge garnished in hibiscus, sunburn,

pineapple. In the shallows, the moray eel we’d spotted earlier—

prehistoric face bobbling from his pulpit of stone. Before

the ceremony, we’d tossed in our pockets of foreign coins—

wishes aimed at his blind scowl. Later, moonlight uprooted

the slippery ribbon of his tail, while the current floated him,

floorboard by floorboard, across you & me; a benediction

in a sleeve of sea water, the round polyp mouths of the reef

opening in the dark like a choir.

 


The Walrus in the Tea Leaves

  For Doug

Darling, it wasn’t the news you’d expected.

And when you told me about it, I’d giggled,

conjured images of broken symmetries—

kaleidoscope and compass, magnetic poles

and mirrors gone random. I knew what

you were hoping for, how you’d tilted your

throat back and swallowed down the void.

The psychic parsing through the wrack line

for messages left in seaweedy clots of Chamomile

or Earl Gray. Speckle and flack— dark nebula

splat against a bone-colored sky. You said

she’d seemed baffled by the walrus—

awkward animal, all teeth and tail. You

told me he’d risen twice from the wet ashes

that morning, buoyant and robust in his

island cup, nosing through the diorama of dregs

like a seafloor of mollusk shells pursed shut;

his mouth, an insistent imprint on the rim.

 

Déjà Vu

    —1979

There has to be darkness and a highway.

Beyond the shoulders of the road,

a topography, splayed and lit in street lamps.

You’re seventeen, and Hotel California

is playing on the radio. If you look close

enough, you can see the silhouette of

mountains beyond your own reflection

in the car window. To the right, an anchor

store in a strip mall. To the left,

the gas station where high school boys work—

the good looking ones who sweep the silk

of their long bangs from their eyes

with puppy-soft hands, and ask if you want

regular or unleaded. Watching them comb

your windshield clean beneath

the squeegee’s wide, forgiving blade,

you might imagine whispering: Save me,

and wonder, does anyone do that anymore?—

the windshield washing, you mean, of course,

and you know that if you slid your fingers

inside the thick baffles of their goose-down

vests, down into the warmth beneath

their soft-as-ash flannel shirts, your palms

would smell like gasoline and their father’s

Old Spice, and that in the star bristled night,

every imagined kiss was a curfew, exquisitely unfair,

and a promise you had made in a fever to return

home what you’d borrowed just the way you found it.



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