Poetry Drawer: At Exit 50; The Shade Oak; Wedding Song by Robert Demaree


On the interstate
Vacant property
Unsold for twelve years:
Once a gentlemen’s club,
Topless waitresses,
Who knows what else;
Later a stand-alone church
(That’s my term—they called it
A Worship Centre),
God’s sense of fair play,
Pastor charismatic but unschooled,
Divorce counselling,
Choir accompanied by bass guitar.
Seller motivated,
Will renovate for new owner.
Builders of big boxes
Wait in the wings.


Our friend’s husband, now deceased,
Had suggested cutting down
The oak at the water’s edge.
Would improve our view of the mountain,
He thought, but we prefer
Shelter from the high
Hazy sun of July,
The private rise and fall of inner tubes
On the waves of passing boats,
Hidden from jet skiers.
Each year I trim back dead branches;
Our grandchildren grasp the stubs
Like subway straps.
We watch from the porch
When a fisherman’s line
Gets snarled in leaves
Weighed down by a predawn rain.
We did not like Wilbur all that much,
To tell the truth.
We did not cut down the tree
And would not, even if the state allowed,
Content to float in the shade
And picture the mountain
From memory.


Soft light through Spanish moss,
White chapel on a sea island:
We have gathered over many miles and years,
Her law school friends, his cousins from Kent.
His precious little girl bears flowers.
The organist quietly plays Beethoven, Rachmaninoff,
Then, with boldness, Jeremiah Clarke,
Melodies that tell of the tenacity of love,
How it can sometimes get delayed,
How it will come back again,
How love persists, prevails.

Robert Demaree is the author of four book-length collections of poems, including Other Ladders published in 2017 by Beech River Books. His poems have received first place in competitions sponsored by the Poetry Society of New Hampshire and the Burlington Writers Club. He is a retired school administrator with ties to North Carolina, Pennsylvania and New Hampshire. Bob’s poems have appeared in over 150 periodicals including Cold Mountain Review and Louisville Review.

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