Poems by Melissa Chappell

Poems by Melissa Chappell
Ode to a Bottle of Chardonnay
Oh, you vessel full of light and elixir sweet!
I brought you down from the high shelf of the wine shop.
You have come to us across the far ocean,
germinating in the deep clay soils of Burgundy.
Such noble birth! Aged in oak, I paid well for you.
From the far ocean you have come to
this humble kitchen, where my lover and I
enjoy salmon lately swimming the Bering Sea,
and even now he is uncorking you! What sweet aroma!
Your gleaming figure glistens in the kitchen, warm
from the stove and our bodies’ mammal dreams.
Such noble birth! I paid well for you.
This I remember as he pours you into my glass.
I swear France burns as I swallow this precious nard.
The meal being ended, he comes to me.
Slowly my shirt floats to the floor,
a cloud heavy with rain,
and by my hand he leads me to the chartreuse couch,
wine bottle in the other, half full.
Oh, you vessel full of light and elixir sweet!
He lays me down, and with the silence of the deep earth,
he pours from you a cascade all upon me.
From far across the ocean, germinating in the
clay soils of Burgundy,
you came to christen my poor frame,
the streams followed by his fierce strong tongue.
Oh you elixir from the eternal realms,
how you have gifted me!
Poor as I am,
I am tonight so nobly born
by the light pouring forth
from your vessel of grace.
Though the Days May Taste Bitter Yet
For Peter
It seems silly, really.
I saved your photo to my computer.
So that after thirty years,
I could still stroll into such kindness
as I find in your eyes.
A photo of an endless swaying footbridge
in the Himalayas,
taped to my desk,
spans of time crossed.
I am with you again
in mist and rain.
Such weariness
from scraping life off the bone.
Images of shadows
lingering over my shoulder.
My hope shudders in fear.
Show me, love, show me,
a picture of a road
that leads to where
I am going,
even though the days
may taste bitter yet.
A photo of a bridge you built,
for me, a bridge of courage
over the unfathomed crevasse.
For now, I must release you,
the wet mist from my grasping fist.
I could not hold on.
A photo of the crescent shore
sandswept; here our remnant love
spilled where the warm
tidepools whirled.
Picture me once,
as the sun waits
to strike you by day
with its fading rays.
I will hold your photograph
close to the dark soil of my body.
Picture me twice,
for from time to time,
in moonraker monochrome
dreams I come to you,
the deep, sleeping snows,
silver and night,
then bursting forth
into fields of poppies rioting red
in a fall of sunswept light.
Picture me once more,
just this last time, really,
still loving you
as a bird loves its homing place,
as a cloud loves the rain,
as a lily loves the field.
Mother of My Losses
My father gave to me a marigold.
I pressed it between the leaves of this book to dry,
a winter sun.
Yet I cannot find it.
Perhaps it was caught up
by some wayward breeze
to be taken back to the earth.
My mother gave me a song
whose sails were filled with
the air she could not breathe.
Though it is locked away, unsung,
in the Atlantic’s thronging memory,
it is now lost to me,
and back home I wander ether pastures
trying to catch hold of some refrain.
My grandfather gave me a story
of our ancestors and the sea.
I have searched the relics upon the strand:
a dejected piece of driftwood,
a rancorous old crab pot,
a wine bottle with no message,
but none of these revealed even a thread
of my grandfather’s weaving.
It is somewhere away from me,
in fathoms blue,
beyond my knowing.
I was once given a lover.
Madly did I love him,
until the earth beneath us thundered
and the sky above us crazed.
Yet I could not keep him;
he slipped my fingers,
and now I weep among the poplars.
So much loss,
so much empty space,
rendered vacant under my care.
I shepherd empty pastures.
I keep a watch in the offing.
If I have been given one task,
it is of tending all that I cannot find.
I am the mother of my losses.
I’m taking you captive
and after I burn us to the ground
I’m going to call down the amber
older than Noah,
like fate’s spider,
who spun his way into eternity.
You in me,
the final great collide/
As the resin flows down,
we still burn and burn
for the everlasting.
It all happens so slowly
you have no chance to
be surprised when you
realize each is pressed
into the other, a printer’s
block, a smoldering impression
for these thousand generations,
the mark of your body ever
burned into mine in
cinder and ash,
and mine into yours.
Together we sleep
in the unmeasured night,
fathomed only by the
fathomless One,
until one copper brushed day,
some archaeologist’s
assistant reaches back
into the charred ages and pulls
us out of the dark sludge,
shining and wet
in the golden means of
our amber womb,
our billion year old desire
quickening, kindling,
newborn in the lustrous light.

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