by Linda Purdy
Hallelujah to the peach,
Let it flamingo by the fence alone,
In a halo of self-blessing.
One thousand Buddhas close their eyes.
Angels bask in arctic light.
A bottlefly reflects the sun.
Praise to saints on bicycles,
As they weave through stalled time,
Working miracles of green light.
A honeybee circles a date palm.
The lion curls his tongue and yawns.
Brown-eyed monkeys chase their tails.
Hail the Mona Lisa moon.
May she smile over the night,
And confound the lords of reason.
My Best Friend Anathema
by Linda Purdy
Gets up at midnight, drinks gallons of Coke
And loves TV. She plays the remote
Like an instrument until her radar tunes in
The best of the wee hours, obscure documentaries
Like St. Dymphna: Patroness of the Mentally Ill.
Around her TV chair are stacks of books,
Magazines, Coke bottles and plastic sacks.
She has a multitrack mind, reading Aristophanes
And assorted poetry during infomercials.
Her tower of plastic sacks is six feet tall
And lists to the East. Anathema also stands six feet
And drinks so much Coke she weighs 260.
She loves to smoke, exhaling in long, beautiful plumes
That drift over her head like question marks.
She bathes once a month in Mr. Clean,
Using SOS on the soles of her feet.
Her hair is two inches long and combed into peaks,
An echo of the shock she feels in being alive.
Anathema would like to be feral
And adores the privacy of her trailer park,
Cherishing the oxymoron of a mobile home.
Our friendship began after school in Jr. High,
Listening to her dad, Bill, play jazz in the living room,
His piano lifting the modest neighborhood
To the pluperfect tense, maybe even to the stars,
His improvisations following the curve of the melody
Like a bird working a hot air current for all its worth.
Life is hard on those it doesn’t get—
So when the world says no and sings off key
Anathema and I replay our common memory:
Her father, Bill, cooking the keys in the living room,
Making life more beautiful and easy to bear,
Landing just the right note every time.
The Goldfish Suicide
by Linda Purdy
Like a saffron robed monk
He kept his vow of solitude
Swimming circles of silent devotion
Around the narrow circumference
Of his golden life.
He lived in the kitchen—
His bright glass globe
On the window sill,
Alongside the ripening green tomatoes
And purple velvet violets.
In the early afternoon,
Beams of sunlight lit his bowl;
He would rise to the surface
To feed his soul
On rays of illumination.
Yet if you faced him close up—eye to eye,
The water magnified his presence,
As in a trick mirror at the carnival.
He looked enormous and distorted:
A twisted golden freak.
I was fifteen when
I won him at the county fair—
A lucky aim at the penny arcade.
I didn’t even name him—
Poor anonymous fish,
Living in the kitchen,
So far from nature and so close
To the sink,
Filled with dirty dishes
Five days old.
My mother, being frugal,
Saved odd leftovers.
That’s why the glass of chocolate milk
Landed on the window sill
Next to his bright cell.
Opaque and brown,
Most likely spoiled,
The chocolate milk
Became his neighbor
And his lure.
Even the best of us
Are restless and want more.
So who can say if it was ambition
Or some darker wish
That urged him
To forsake his vow.
With one mighty leap
He answered to temptation,
And flung himself into the dark
I was still fifteen,
When I found him
Floating in the chocolate,
But I got it—The world so big—
his fish bowl, so very small.
Linda Purdy was born in 1943 and earned a BA in English from Whittier College and a Master of Library and Information Science from CSU Fullerton. Her poetry and prose appeared in Irvine Valley College's The Ear, Faultline, International Harvest, and the Santa Monica Review, and at the Smithsonian Photography Initiative. She died in October. A commemorative collection of her work, including short fiction and poems, is being published by a group of her fellow workshop participants, teachers and editors, all champions of her work.