Rumpus Original Poetry: Three Poems by Erika Luckert
you write that “what we worship
makes us what we are,” and if this is true
then based on the poems of yours I’ve read so far
you are both a daughter and a god,
if this is true, I am a vine, invasive, here
to climb a wall. “As tendrils cling and twine
about the tree,” you write, and I try
to unwind your words into a history.
Have you heard the story about the mother,
about your daughter, who brings a stem of ivy
across the prairie, plants it in new land?
True, she might have known
how it would spread across the hillside
as it did the cabin walls. True, I might
have imagined most of this. Dear Gertrude,
which parts are true? How much vine
does it take to choke a tree, how many years
or generations for the ivy to spread
clear across a mountain range?
“As tendrils cling about the tree,”
you write, “your love and friendship
hold the heart of me.” If this is true,
I see the heart of the family
crawling out of the body
and clinging, lining, twining,
taking hold of the land.
Portrait for Gertrude
Did you, like Stein, hold a vine
in your hand, caress completely
and repeat and repeat
repeat the word, repeat
the world, caress
and address a noun
hedera helix, english
ivy, wordly ivy ivy
ivy the way
we say a prayer
or insist in speaking
ivy ivy that something
Was it a space.
Was it a cabin.
Was it a space.
Was it a mountain
some blue mountain-
side with a cabin beside
was it there in Tennessee
a space to see.
The vine grows. The vine
climbs. Trained, the vine
lines the wall. The vine
flowers. The vine
is eaten by a garden snail
who leaves unsightly holes
in the leaves. The vine
veins, the tissue
between feeds insects
at the larval stage. They
skeletonize the vine. We believe
the internal architecture
of the vine. The vine climbs.
The vine leans. The vine
means. When I say ivy
I mean family. When I say ivy
I mean enemy. When I say
ivy I mean vine I mean me.
Author photo by Jason McCormick