Cynthia Gardner’s poems have been published in a number of literary journals, including Alaska Quarterly Review, Southern Poetry Review, and The Bridge, and in anthologies such as Crossing Paths: An Anthology of Poems by Women (Mad River Press, 2002). Her first collection, a chapbook, How Will They Find Me, was published by Finishing Line Press last year, with a fine oil painting of her own on the cover.
Employed as a clinical social worker, Cynthia Gardner also maintains a private psychotherapy practice. She grew up in Connecticut, is married, with two grown sons, and lives and works in Pittsfield, Massachusetts.
Here are three poems to introduce you to her work. The first of these, “Stillborn,” which I heard her read a number of years ago, is the one that made me realize the strong potential of her poetry.
– Irene Willis,
A long legged heron flies low
over the field where the pregnant cows lie.
“It’s good luck,” my mother says.
The cows are still, even when they move, and quiet.
The oldest cow’s udders are huge and swollen,
her hip bones hollowed out and sharp.
Yesterday, she gave birth to twins, the first stillborn.
She licked off the sac and the birth matter.
She licked its face, but the calf lay unmoving at her feet.
The next twin suckled for a day, huddled by its mother.
Now, the farmer takes them back to the farm
in a shabby wagon behind his tractor.
They struggle to keep their balance.
Buzzards slowly zero in.
After dark, coyotes pick the dead calf clean.
They run away with all the bones but the ribs and a leg.
“A tasty morsel for them,” the farmer says.
When I return, there is only low grazed field grass,
and the scent of wild thyme.
The heron flies over and lands by the river,
peers into the water.
from How Will They Find Me. Finishing Line Press, 2012. (Previously published in Alaska Quarterly Review and the anthology Under One Roof (MadRiver Press).
Apple Trees in November
in the grey November air
in the black spokes of trees
which reach their brittle tips
toward early snow –
the only clue the landscape leaves
that once there was bounty.
This is the month of quickening.
my child will be born
when winter turns.
Driving home tonight
watching for moose
a wreath in the back seat
I pass the little house
the only place
between our towns.
From the road
a TV glows
trucks jammed in the drive.
Years ago I imagined us there
our cars side by side
our household spare
two chairs from my brother
a rug from my father
your bowl of succulents.
Now we talk about then.
“I love your voice,” you say.
The day near solstice
we sat in a yellow kitchen
and talked into the night
is where I stay.
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