Laurie Kuntz: Two Poems
A Garden Look at Loss | Driving Back to El Monte
A Garden Look at Loss
(or the death of a friend)
A year ago, with shovel and hoe,
(because you were preparing to leave),
I came to your house and dug up
all you had put into ground
The first to awaken me, this spring,
from the "snow unsaying itself"
is your lemon drop forsythia.
Muted in sand and sea shades,
the hydrangea will soon boast brilliant hues.
The stick dry bamboo is a mystery slowly
solving itself with green tinseled fingers.
Come fall, the crinolined cosmos will pirouette around
my wind battered fence, rugged in an ivy spread.
I am often reminded,
of our exchange
your sadness to see
all tugged from unsettled soil
and I, uncertain, of what would endure
(in an undiscriminating season)
bestowed in another's garden.
Driving Back to El Monte
In your first winter, before El Nino,
when the weather was still predictable,
and there was part-time shift work,
Bich gardened and the yard seeded into a lush profit
of fuchsia, bluebells, and guava trees.
Crimson morning glory bolted up a wooden trellis
and in a stone pool, under the mossy cover
of lotus pods, Japanese Koi shimmered
like gold bricks that paid your way to California.
shaded Bich's bedroom window
and the scent of guava woke her
most mornings, as it had in Vietnam.
The rent was controlled,
the garden wasn't, set apart from the eyesores
along Elliot Ave you both lived under the bloom
of all that had been scattered.
Then, the Mexican owners, needing a place
for their arriving Ensenada relatives,
gave you a month's notice and you moved closer
to the minimum wage and better bus routes.
And that's how it was.
Until one day, wanting for something to lament,
you drove Bich back down Elliot Avenue,
both of you waiting for that splash of color.
What is it that makes people want
to cut everything down to blacktop,
or the need for something concrete?
You parked, blocking the driveway
and named the flowers gone,
the trees severed to stumps
and weeds warily waved like lovers
departing from distant docks.
And that's how it was,
and Bich said, Di! which means,
Let's just go.
So, you put the car in reverse,
the two of you, once again,
backing out of your lives,
Laurie Kuntz worked in a Vietnamese refugee camp in the Philippines for over a decade. Currently, she is a lecturer in English at the Univ. of Maryland's Asian Campus in Misawa, Japan. She holds an MFA from Vermont College. She is the winner of the 1999 Texas Review Chapbook Contest and her chapbook, Simple Gestures, is published by Texas Review Press (2000). Edwin Mellen Press published her poetry collection, Somewhere in the Telling, in 1999. Blue Light Press will publish her chapbook, Women at the Onsen, which placed first runner up in their annual contest, in 2001. She is the author of two English-as-a-Second-Language (ESL) books, The New Arrival, BKS. 1 & 2 (Prentice-Hall, 1982, 1992). She is the editor of the University of Maryland's Asian Division's literary magazine, Blue Muse. The winner of many contests, her poetry has been published in The Bloomsbury Review, The Macguffin, The Louisville Review, The Charlotte Poetry Review, The Roanoke Review, The Southern Review, The Eleventh Muse, Poetry Miscellany, The New Virginia Review, Crosscurrents, The South Florida Review, The Sun, The Contemporary Review and other magazines. She read her poetry at the Poetry Reading Series at the University of Evansville in March 2000. In Japan in 2002, during Women's History Month, her poetry was performed in a one-act play honoring her work. She lives in northern Japan with her son and husband.