Featured Poet: John Perrault, Portsmouth
John Perrault is the author of Here Comes the Old Man Now, Oyster River Press, 2005, from which this poem is taken; and The Ballad of Louis Wagner and other New England Stories in Verse, Peter Randall Publisher, 2003. He practices law in Portsmouth, teaches part time in the Humanities Program at UNH, and presents Ballad programs for the NH Humanities Council. As a balladeer, John has appeared at numerous venues throughout New England. He is a Touring Artist with the New Hampshire State Council on the Arts' Artist Roster. His poems have appeared widely in various publications, including The Christian Science Monitor, Commonweal, The Cafe Review, and Poet Lore. He was Portsmouth Poet Laureate 2003-2005.
Of his poem"At the Home" John writes:
"I wrote this poem when my mother was 94 and residing at an assisted living home in Maine. It was a lovely converted mansion on a hill with rolling lawns and wrap-around porch. She'd sit out there all day in good weather, soaking in the light, the sounds of the trees moving in the wind, the birds. Three days before she died a year ago August at 99, we sat on that porch singing every song she taught me as a child. Her fellow residents got a kick out of our version of "There Were Three Jolly Fishermen." My main goal in this piece was to capture her voice -- to evoke her love for and sympathy with all living things. She really did talk to the world this way."
At the Home
Mother opens up the blinds
on her two windows,
finds the locks and lifts --
nearly blind at ninety-four,
she hears the finches first
before she spies them,
flitting outside the screen --
little flashes of red
blinking in the ivy bush,
lighting up the leaves.
Leaning on her walker
she whispers through the mesh,
just like in confession,
so as not to wake her neighbors:
"Bless you little birdies,
what kind of day is it?
Aren't you nice to visit me with song.
Is it warm enough on the other side?
I'll be coming out soon as I say my prayers,
soon as I find my shoes,
now don't you fly off without me --
three Hail Marys
and I'll be right along."
For more information about John Perrault visit http://www.johnperrault.com