Luann Landon

Miss Amy

A table laid with tea and cake and roses
appears a gracious plenty. A country house,
a kindly climate. An aging parrot dozes
the time away. September ebbs and dies
outside the window. My visit seems to rouse
Miss Amy. Filling my cup, she smiles and sighs.

I think of that old story, hushed, yet heard.
Rebellious daughter, father adamant.
When young, Miss Amy tripped and fell too hard
for some outlandish man. Her father swore
to punish her and teach her can from can't.
She loved the man but loved her father more.

The man was mounted, waiting at the gate
when Amy met her father in the hall.
He turned on all the lamps and said, “We'll wait
till Kingdom Come--or maybe just till dawn.
A man who
loves a woman comes to call.”
First light. Stillness. Silence. The man was gone.

Miss Amy knows too well these evening hours
when sunlight warmth withdraws from house and lawn,
the garden's pleasant waste of leaves and flowers.
“You know,” her voice irresolute, uneven,
“I just am not the same since Papa's gone;
but suffering so, he's better off in heaven.”

She gestures suddenly with her free hand,
her brimful teacup rattles, tilts to spill,
wetting her blouse, the carpet where we stand,
coloring the decent Persian umber red.
She cries out, “Sorry! Sorry!” blushing till
there seems a core of fire inside her head.

“My Papa used to say to little girls
that if we gestured with our hands he'd seam
them to our sides.” Neck throbbing against her pearls,
she kneels and stabs her napkin at the stain.
She hears the caged and cared-for parrot scream,
then takes her chair and folds her hands again.

Good Friday Sermon

Christ's death makes worthless every human worth.
Of course he's right, grim old man of the cloth.
Life is wretchedness and sorrowing.
But leaving church, I hear the cries of spring.
The campus gleams--April is all I know--
a Chopin waltz bursts from a radio.
My prayer is: Let no heavy circumstance
put down the natural rightness of the dance.
Though death in the end will wrack our pith and leaven
Christ in his great kindness gives us heaven.
Immortal play and always high morale
in that vast civil country where we shall
have always lovely and unbreaking towers
and old men leaping through their fields of flowers.


My mother sulks a little--he's coming home
tonight--my husband's been three weeks away.
She knows I hate to leave her all alone
but that I do not really want to stay.
I'm smiling (I can't help it), almost dance
across the room to find her book and glasses.
Pills, walker, hearing aid--a trance
of boredom with old age, her daylight passes.
He's standing in the doorway now. She smiles
and calls his name, won't let herself be mean;
and I remember her old wit and style,
her footsteps springing when her time was green.
“Good-bye,“ she whispers, small in her chair, and still.
“Love and rejoicing attend upon you still.”


A native of the South, Luann Landon graduated from Radcliffe and lived for several years in France. She has published poetry in Cumberland Poetry Review, The Tennessee Quarterly, The Edge City Review, Dogwood, and Sewanee Theological Review, and has received several awards in The Robert Penn Warren Poetry Competition. Her memoir-cookbook, Dinner At Miss Lady's (Algonquin, 1999), is in its third printing.


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Luann Landon
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Therese Chabot creates delicate, ephemeral installations – carpets, dresses and crowns – using flower petals and natural materials to speak of the stages of life and the paths we are given to choose from.
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