Nancy Baker Rullo


Summer Ghazal

We wait forever for these days of long light and nights noisy with crickets
when we are rocked to sleep by sudden stars and the song of the cricket.

In the beginning of time there was a timeless breath, a split second
when matter became matter, where it was not before, sudden as a cricket.

The hot days press us down into lawn chairs, drinks tilting in the grass.
Their stars of moisture shine in the flickering thicket of willow, where lives the cricket.

Wildfires of matter whirl into time, a carnival of spiraling suns, magnetic galaxies.
They spin in measureless rhythms, timed by an unseen conductor, whose breath is the cricket.

Dusk, that vagrant conduit, whispers to us: “Time, now; time for dinner, time for sleep.”
Snakes stretch on rocks that hold the sun’s fever. They, too, hear the ticking of the cricket.

Planets appear, reflected, unreflected, staggering in their orbits, lighthouses we can time the seasons by.  
Their stamina tires us.  We sense a trick, some tune we cannot hear, unlike the cricket                   

“Nan,” you say in the fluttering dark, “time for bed.” The sky swirls and sighs, without rest.
The ice in our glasses clicks in specific rhythms as we stride through the night toward the cricket.



Minnesota Ghazal
I might have written this poem on the shore of Lake Superior, which lay in front of me.
Like some great fish, cold and flat under the sun, its ripples shone like scales.

I might have written this poem by the silvered pool watching my dark-haired daughters talk.
I am stunned by their intimacy.  I sip a margarita, shiver, and keep my mouth shut.

Women now, they sit on a beach like girls, pocketing shiny stones. Each wonders whom I love best.
I keep my back to the sun and my shadow moves ahead of me, deep as a bruise I step on repeatedly.    

I might have written this poem with the forest behind me and waves rolling like banners onto the rocks.    
My daughters wade and whisper in tidal pools below me; their gypsy eyes stalk the shore.

Ore boats shove into Two Harbors, Minnesota, filling Agate Bay with smoke and walloping waves.
A giant teapot carries taconite from a train, across rusting iron piers, and pours it into the ship.

On a scalding afternoon we find a tea shop, and gobble cucumber sandwiches, sip tea in flowery cups.
Nibbling cranberry scones and cream and lemon curd, we roll our sleeves up to eat.

“This ore boat here,” a local man tells me, “was right behind the Edmund Fitzgerald when it sank.
It was on their radar, and then it just disappeared.  Like my wife, after I was burned bad on the job.”

Ambulances scream by. All summer it is like this, folks say; people plummet from ledges into the lake.
I walk carefully, low to the ground, eye my daughters. Their only fear is in disappointing me.

Gambling in the casino, the practical daughter scowls at our risks, holds her cup of coins close.
Later we find her playing two slots at once, quarters tumbling into her lap, eyes rushing with light.

We are lucky in Minnesota.  It only rains at night, or in places we have not yet arrived at..
We win $7.50 and spend it at a sandwich shop, watching a storm scour the prairie for miles.

I might have written this poem while my daughters slept, in a room at the edge of the dark lake.
I might have written this poem while my eyes searched for signs of the opposite shore.



Winter Ghazal

It could go on forever, this intimacy of the apparent and clear.
It signals from the thin bridge of one night.

We sleep for months numbed by the words of an evil fairy.  
She is girdled in bluebells, trailing her earrings for bait.

Winter in the Catskills - a need to believe we can flame above the cold.
In the darkness we donate ourselves to the air.

Weeds blacken under the stiff sun, thin and alert.
They are pens stuck in the dead snow, waiting to write on the sky.

Our original intentions are lost, but they ripple through the room.
Like the folds and tears on old photos, parts of our memories are lost.

A white horse stands in the field alongside the Bearsville hill.
The sky, a canopy of nickel, balances on a bare maple.

Last night the words I needed flew away into a dream of planets.
They were soft flannel words, warm words that did not cling.
My life is as simple as bread and mushrooms on a plate.
There are things I know so well, I forget to expect them.

In my notebook a page with 4 words: the waiting of women.
I write quietly, in secret.  You do not know how far I have gone from you.



NANCY RULLO has taught creative writing at Ulster County Community College, privately to adults and teenagers in Woodstock, NY, and at theHudson Valley Writer’s Guild.  A former member of the poetry performance groups, The Bardettes, and the “all right girls!” she appeared in venues from Massachussetts to the Carolinas. She was also a featured reader at the Woodstock Poetry Festival and with Goat Hill Poets at the Woodstock Fringe Festival. Poems have been published in Aurorean, Reflect, Blueline, HalfMoon Review,  Dream International Quarterly, Tertulia, Chronogram and Prima Materia. A member of the Woodstock, NY, Haiku-kai, her poems have been published in venues from Japan to England. A poetic and visual collaboration with Gay Leonhardt, “The Odd God: an introduction,” was presented at the Center for Photography at Woodstock. Returning to writing after 12 years is an exciting venture for her.