Married Moscow poets Susan and D’Wayne Hodgin will read from their work at 7 p.m. Friday at the free, fifth annual Wine, Chocolate and Poetry event at the Potlatch Library.

Susan is a southeastern Louisiana native whose career in language arts education led to her coach four Idaho state winners of the Poetry Out Loud contest. She is serving as Moscow’s second poet laureate (2018-21). Her most recent poems were published in “50/50, Poems & Translations by Womxn over 50” by Quills Edge Press.

D’Wayne is a retired University of Idaho English lecturer. He found his direction as an English teacher and literature lover in 1967 while serving in the 1st Infantry in Vietnam. He has published short stories and poems in various literary magazines over the last four decades.

In this weeks’ edition we’re featuring a poem by each of them.

— Inland 360 staff

The World Underfoot

By Susan Hodgin

“Heaven is under our feet as well as over our heads.”

— Henry David Thoreau, “Walden”

So this is what it must have felt like,

you say as you sink lithely,

not as in mud, off-balance and sliding,

but in decades of leaves, decomposed,

the scent of stirred spores, white mildew

wafting through air.

Musty, undisturbed

since Dad’s death, the ground feels so richly new.

Aging, Mother let the land go

wild as she by-passed

this stand of trees to fetch her morning mail

from the roadside box.

Now you stand in Eden’s dappled light,

lawn rake in hand, helping

her with the land, this earth so

thick under canopies

of magnolia, crepe myrtle,

long-leaf pine. You wonder

at the cushion of spongy ground,

this reality loam

of tortoise, armadillo, skunk, possum, jay.

These found Mother’s yard—

a forest path—

where Choctaw once stood

with heaven underfoot.

Note: Originally published online Dec. 2017 in the Inlander.

Picture of My Mother Alone on Her Wedding Day

by D’Wayne Hodgin

In long nights your picture draws me, and I bear

your dark eyes alive like the still rose

above your breast. Wed in early spring,

you hold against the light your timeless smile

for me, alone years later, but I turn

from you and rise to the window and rain.

Darkness seeps in scattered light through the rain

streaming above the bush, budding to bear

later in this wet time, when rains turn

warm from cold morning a huge golden rose.

The window diffuses my face; no smile

rises in the haphazard dark of spring.

But your memory flows like a deep spring

in me, sure, safe, enduring as the rain.

I see in this other window your smile,

slight but strong. You were unable to bear

our mistakes as full as you wished, but rose

with them heavy until they forced your turn

from us.  We waited in the church our turn

to hold you to us one last time in spring.

Your husband and five sons, weak without you, rose

as one and carried you into the rain,

each one of us – alone – unable to bear

that awful weight your softened words and smile

had told us soon would be only our smile

alone. Beneath the leafing oaks we turned

before you, wanting you again to bear

us close. We stood still in that soiled spring

waiting for fecund silence filled with rain

to force us each to throw a golden rose

after you. Each to his own, we rose

from you. Now, in this clear window, I smile

as your dark eyes come back to me in rain.

Your picture cannot hold you as I turn

and pull the curtain full to night and spring

and rain. Tomorrow I will lightly bear

a golden rose for you, refuse to turn

from your smile in the fullness of spring,

reborn in all the rain that I can bear.

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