Sunday, April 11, 2010

Nine O'Clock, Tuesday

At nine o’clock, Tuesday,

The gardeners,

Their eyes hidden

In beekeeper hats,

Pass silently by.

On the water,

Ducklings dodge the fish

That swallow them

With one quick gulp.

Only the water

Circling out and closing over

Says something ever lived

On the surface of the lake.

At nine o’clock, Tuesday,

The cleaning lady enters

Without a sound.

Her eyes slide past

The gardeners by the gate,

Her soapy silence

An answer to the language

Of their machines.

At nine o’clock, Tuesday,

As she plans her busy day,

Her eyes slip beyond

The quiet lake,

Seeking to translate

The languages she knew

So long ago

Before she lost her voice.


  1. just beautiful... and very poignant, it leaves me with a silence..

  2. Echo the watercats here. It's like there is nothing to say.
    But I'll try anyway! Fine writing, wonderful use of repetition of the simplest thing until it becomes a threat or the toll of a bell, and the sense of a controlling force you create is palpable. Wonderful.

  3. Your poetry always has such a size to it. Simply wonderful. :)

  4. Lovely poem - I enjoyed the use of repetition for emphasis and the wonderful natural imagery.
    The last line sneaks up on you.

    (Does this mean you have a gardener and a housekeeper? I'm jealous! *kidding*)


  5. I want to know who the names were and what the word was. Were they as obvious as the time and the gardners and cleaning woman? I feel like you slayed me with the final lines and I don't understand why. Great poem. Much deeper than I am.

  6. Lovely poem Karen understated yet powerful.Even the punchline isn't a direct hit but a more effective eneveloping force..

    Ps. Mrs EEjit loved this.

  7. Such poignancy and so well paced. The repetition gives it shape. Very slick!

  8. This is beautiful, really deep - if you'll forgive the pun - love the soapy silence and the language she knew so long ago - it's one for rereading I think!

  9. The repetition of nine o'clock Tuesday builds a faintly malevolent air and then you get the kick of the final line. Beautiful

  10. O My
    This IS so ... oh beautiful is such a cliche...

    All I can say... AWESOME!


  11. watercats - Thanks! It's not often I leave someone speechless! (Oops! That's not what you said, but I like the sound of it, anyway. All bad puns always intended...)

    JoAnne - Thank you. Sometimes, I read something and think, "Oh!" or "Ah," but I don't really know what to say, so I do appreciate your comments. Truly.

    jason - You know, I always worry because I can't seem to produce much in the way of long poetry. Thank you for the reassurance that length doesn't matter. ;-)

    Kat - Thank you...(and FYI, my gardener sleeps in my bed and my housekeeper does, too - and I wouldn't trade our lives at all. Well, maybe once in a while...)

    Chris - The names ("she" and the name of the housekeeper)came from my email address book, and the word I started with was "appointment," but that got cut from the final draft. Instead, I used the concept of scheduling a busy day and used "Tuesday" instead. Names were cut to protect ME!

    TFE - Thanks to you both. I would love to be able to see other people's creative processes -- to see how the final poems have changed from their original inceptions. (Hmmm...maybe I'll drive the bus and use this as part of the directions!) Anyway, I'm saying this in response to your comment about the poem being understated, which it certainly was not in the beginning. I had to winnow away until it didn't feel too obvious nor too obscure. Anyway, thanks to you and the Mrs. both!

    Argent - Thanks, I think. Slick I'm not always sure of!?

    Niamh - Thank you. Deep, I'll take! ;-)

    Peter - Thank you!

    Dulce - That, I'll take gladly! Thanks!

  12. This is beautiful - full of water and silence and still pauses. I have to be honest and say I'm not entirely sure if I'm getting everything it's saying, but it almost doesn't matter - the pleasure's in the re-reading of it.

  13. Karen...I used to know the language and use it well. But now I am thinking maybe I have overused it and would rather plan a busy day doing something else than go gardening. Maybe i am ready for the fish to come swallow me whole and not think on it anymore, just leave the water rippling as a reminder that a poet once swam on that lake.

  14. Karen, you have captured that snapshot...that moment in beautifully. I love that you use a day and time that are seemingly ordinary. But the poem reminds us that they are not. The water reverberates with the stories of life and the ones who pass by.

    These lines are slap dab awesome (slap dab being a poetic term):

    "Only the water
    Circling out and closing over
    Says something ever lived
    On the surface of the lake"


    "Her soapy silence
    An answer to the language
    Of their machines."

    I love them all, but dear Karen, how beautiful those lines are. And what quiet power!

    Now, for the cleaning lady. No, I won't forget her, because she is what I meant when I said the stories reverberate. As everyone else has said, the last line is wonderful...a powerful punch. I love how your beautiful, soft voice can twist me into different directions and paint a hundred different stories. Now that's what I call an awesome poem!

  15. This poems speaks to me about every day occurrences that can generate art and beauty that we fail to see sometimes. Thanks for the poem post.

  16. Language! :D

    There's a wistful and measured pace to this one that I really like... lots of quiet and significant images slowly marching along. Love it.

  17. Oh, this is really good. There are some wondeful bits - her "soapy silence" for example - and the basic concept, contrasting gardeners and cleaning lady. Loved it.

  18. this is beautifully written if somewhat sad at the end. to lose your voice- that way of interpreting things you love so much- would be devastating. that photo is easy on the eyes. beautiful. hope all is well.

  19. Pure Fiction - I really didn't mean for it to be confusing. I'm not of the school that thinks that is a necessary quality for a poem to be good, so I can only tell you that I think it means whatever you think it does. That's the beauty of poetry.

    TWM - In light of my comments to others, I'm going to reverse myself and always get me! I wonder if it's that we're of the same era?

    Julie - Southern Poet Extraordinaire - Mouth of the South! I can't tell you how much your good words lift my spirits and spur me on. Thank you.

    Quackster - I think one of the best things about poetry is that it becomes the property of the reader. Thank you for telling me what you think of this one.

    Joseph - Why, Hamlet, what's the matter? Words. Words, words, words! :D Thanks, friend.

    Dave - Thank you, Dave!

    Naquillity - All is well. I hope with you, too, and yes, I agree that to lose one's voice would be devastating.

  20. there's a sadness in this to me - a feeling of people taken for granted - or valued for what they do rather than who they are. but there's a quiet strength in it too, a peace. this is one that's going to stick with me.

  21. I love the history behind the restaurant chain 'Ruby Tuesdays'. Whenever I think of Tuesday its story used to spring to my mind. Now, a poem would too.

  22. joaquin - I think some people are not valued at all but almost invisible to others. Notice how the eyes in this never look at anyone directly, just slide on by to something else or are hidden away. That's a story in itself!

    Aniket - Now I have to look up the history of Ruby Tuesday. Any connections to the song? Well, I'll find out! Thanks.

  23. hmmmm
    the world behind the world we see
    the deeper dimension
    you portrayed it perfectly
    i felt not only in the garden but belonging as well. Bravo

  24. Hi, Rick. Sorry to have missed you this week. You are so right - the deeper world, the subtext of this one. Thanks.