Maureen Eppstein

Pattern in the Sand

Dog Stinkhorn
Water Strider


First published in:
convolvulus No. 5 (1993)



What I come back to is the center -
the pistil emerging from its hooded sheath,
swollen and vulnerable as an erect penis,
its hood suffused already with the red
of the flower's dying.

Everything else exists for this:
the white elliptical petals streaked
with finely dotted lines of dusky red,
the cup in the center, like a throat
with yellow pollen tongue,
its baroque curves bordered with red,
its lip of burgundy velvet set
in ragged lines, like text unjustified.

What I come back to is the way
my body comes to my partner
with the same urgent tenderness,
the same slow dying.


First published in:
Calapooya Collage 17 (1993)



Dog Stinkhorn

(Mutinus caninus)

It exposed itself in my garden
by a stepping-stone incised with female runes.
It was my mother's fears
made flesh, alien and probably poisonous,
jeering at me, flaunting
its pink plastic erection,
its black-slimed glans.

I grabbed a shovel, averted my eyes
as I dug it up and carried it before me
to the garbage can.
I still shake my head,
keep looking for another
to examine with scientific interest
to prove to myself
I'm not irrational.


First published in:
Galley Sail Review No. 35 (1990)



Water Strider

Have you seen
the shadow of the water strider?
A cluster of black velvet moons
outlined in gold
on the brown pebbles of the creek.
Who would have thought
so delicate a thing
could loom so large?


First published in:
Quantum Tao No. 1 (1996)




(Bay of Plenty, New Zealand)

Head down against the wind,
surf pounding to my right,
I notice the pattern the sand makes
as it blows along the beach,
filling in footprints,
covering chevron streaks left by the falling tide.
The sand moves like smoke from a chimney,
or water weed in a smoothly-flowing stream,
or the curve -- I forget its name --
drawn by tying a pencil to a thread
unwinding from a spool.
There are connections here.
My mind struggles clumsily, glimpsing
an elegance I long to comprehend.


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Updated: March 25, 1998