Sunday, March 2, 2014

Old Fashioned

I'm an old-fashioned girl.
When I go down through the reeds, 
making my skirts muddy,
my high-button shoes neatly together on the grass nearby,

birds extinct for years except as specimens
flock to me, calling.
Butterflies and moths in all peculiar colors
appear once again,

and I speak to them in the lost language
of former summers.
Here, I am a girl again, with a different name
but the same soul.

I'm an old-timey girl, daydreaming beneath the willows.
This morning, I collected the hens' eggs,
and holding them in my hand, the white shells made me think
of snowdrops, and writing paper, and June clouds.

No one will ever join me here, I realize.
I am a firefly girl inside the jar of my body,
graced with an afternoon's worth of air, but floating out,
always out,

until, by bullfrog dark, I will be only a curiosity, 
like my birds, the butterflies and moths,
barely seen by a child leaning in her upstairs window not far away,
and she will wonder at what she seems to see,

a light on the water, there and then vanishing,
like her own summer days, though she doesn't know it yet.
______

May 28, 1908 Life magazine cover illustrated by Coles Phillips

20 comments:

hedgewitch said...

Ah, Shay--this just takes my breath away. It has everything a poem should have, and it is also the sigh of music that no words really touch...you make us see our own lineage and live for a moment in another world, another self, looking into the clouded mirror of our own eyes.I especially love 'the lost language of former summers,' the 'firefly girl inside the jar' of her body,' and the sweetness of a wistful continuity at the end. Just gorgeous writing.

TexWisGirl said...

just so beautiful...

'bullfrog dark' - loved that.

Sherry Blue Sky said...

"I speak to them in the lost language of former summers" - what a gorgeous line! And "I am a firefly girl inside the jar of my body". And those closing lines..Joy is right...breathtaking is the word for this poem.

Sioux said...

SOMEday, there is going to be a college class entitled, "Shay's Poetry: A Study of Greatness." It will a two-semester class...or maybe even an entire graduate program...

Kenia Cris said...

A place where we can always be the children we once were, sounds like a treasure island to me. :)

Take care and keep smiling. <3

Other Mary said...

Brilliant! I just love the line, "I am a firefly girl inside the jar of my body" and the final, sad couplet. Those summer days of childhood go by way too fast.

Audrey Howitt aka Divalounger said...

Beautiful--

I am a firefly girl inside the jar of my body,
graced with an afternoon's worth of air, but floating out,
always out,

loved this--but there is much to love here

Linda said...

I love this! As I read it my mind wandered to days gone by. Thank you so much for this much needed moment.

Mama Zen said...

Oh, this is pretty! Believe it or not, I currently have one sitting in drafts called "Old-Fashioned Poem." It may never see the light of day now!

Poet Laundry said...

Oh, I love that final couplet!

HermanTurnip said...

What's interesting is that the main subject doesn't want to recognize her outward appearance, and those that see her are also incapable of seeing her as she truly is. Is she a woman in a figurative metamorphosis? Great piece!

Susan said...

Tears in my eyes for the spirit and details of this piece. The extinct birds flocking to the narrator took me to a plain beyond reality where the earth and all could be young again together. There once was no veil between the worlds, something we sense as children if ever alone with nature enough to see, now The Light on the Water, the vanishing. Thank you for the journey in this perfect poem.

Kerry O'Connor said...

and I speak to them in the lost language
of former summers...

I just love these two lines, but the whole poem evokes a kind of homespun peace which was so lovely to experience through your words.

Jinksy said...

Perhaps we are all fireflies inside body-jars...Fascinating sense of time-out-of-time in this piece...

Robert Bourne said...

this poem was so good... and the line


until, by bullfrog dark, I will be only a curiosity,

was a classic...at least to me ..sometimes I feel like a curiosity...

humbird said...

'the lost language
of former summers.' ~ touched me too. The feelings of life flowing by for someone realized already, and other not even thinking about limitedness of summers...nice ~ a innocent pastoral of country girl

myinnerchick.com said...


****I am a firefly girl inside the jar of my body,
graced with an afternoon's worth of air, but floating out,
always out***

Thank GOD,

We do not want you to stay inside dear!!! xx

Kenia Cris said...

I'm back. :) Because reading you doesn't ever get boring. I insist, put your voice on one of these stories anyday. Pleeease! <3

Sumana Roy said...

To me She seemed to be the incarnation of Mother Earth in her 'old timey girl' form..tiptoeing stealthily
to caress her lost children before fading into darkness....lovely..

razzamadazzle said...

Beautiful. Truly time does march on.