Literature 10-15-2007

What Light: This Week’s Poem: Charisse Gendron

"What Light: This Week's Poem,” sponsored by Magers and Quinn Booksellers, brings you a poem every week by a Minnesota poet, selected by a panel of writers and editors. Look for our anthology, “What Light,” at Magers and Quinn in Uptown or online.


Bumbershoot, Blossom, Boat

Umbrella, little latinate shadow,
a parasol “to prepare for the sun.”
Geranium, chive, milkweed in meadow

are umbels facing zenith, horizon.
Ultramontanes hold the pope supreme
beyond the Alps, especially in Rome.

When Eskimos stretch skins on wooden frame
they make an umiak to cross the sound
slipping between the salmon and the beam.

In an eclipse raining tiny white crowns
run for the umbra and protect your eyes
unless you always look down at the ground.

The pope carries no shade against the sky
for he is umpire, noumpere, nonpareil.


As readers can tell from “Bumbershoot, Blossom, Boat,” I enjoy rhyme and meter. Even rhymes that pounce like a cat. Years of reading and working with other poets, though, have taught me to curb somewhat the pouncing impulse. Using new words can help. This poem was written while perusing the U section of the dictionary. Not too many words rhyme with umiak or umbra. Some of my favorite poets are Lucie Brock Broido, Fanny Howe, Marilyn Hacker, Anne Carson, and Franz Wright.


Charisse Gendron is a grant writer and poet.