Fall 2011, Volume 11

Poetry by Bertha Rogers

Somewhere Near the Equator

I wasn’t worried, safe in my shuttered
room, when the quiet woke me, but I
felt a strangeness through the door;

this hot new world must have died—
no thunder, no birds, no bawling wild
dogs. The moss I had found on

the mountain path, pocketed—I took
up that pressed substance in my fingers,
laid it on my palm—sere and beautiful,

like my grandmother’s hair. In that alien
light I could picture her scalp—florid,
tender as an infant’s—below the green

that grew like scant veins. Yes, Grandmother’s
hair had declined to this shade—but
it was late, and she had traveled even

beyond wheezing in public. Propped
in the nursing home’s strict chair,
she had almost attained baldness.

I looked, and Ah!—there, among the lines
of my palm, beneath the dust-dry moss
there—the slipping back, the keening for

                        her long-gone Mother.



BIO: Bertha Rogers’s poems appear in journals and anthologies, on Poetry Daily (poems.com) and Verse Daily (versedaily.com), and in her collections, Heart Turned Back (Salmon Poetry Publishing, Ireland, 2010), The Fourth Beast (chapbook, Snark Press, IL, 2004); A House of Corners (Three Conditions Press, Maryland Poetry Review Chapbook Contest Winner, 2000); and Sleeper, You Wake (Mellen, NY 1991). Her translation of Beowulf was published in 2000 (Birch Brook Press, NY), and her translation of the riddle-poems from the Anglo-Saxon Exeter Book, Uncommon Creatures, Singing Things, is forthcoming from Birch Brook Press. She has received fellowships to the MacDowell Colony, the Millay Colony, Hawthornden International Writers Retreat, Rockefeller Brothers Pocantico Hills Center, and others. Her poem suite “Three for Summer’s End” was selected by composer Jamie Keesecker and set to music for the MacDowell/Monadnock Music for the Mountain series and performed in 2010