Elaine Christensen

1948 -

A Quote by Elaine Christensen on choice, darkness, earth, garden, imagination, immortality, life, loneliness, motherhood, posterity, promises, soul, water, wilderness, and women

EDEN We had no childhood, Eve and I. Eden was our mother's breast. Our lullaby was earth's first whimperings as grass and herb bloomed seasonless. I named them blade, by stem, by stalk in loneliness, before the Gods formed woman from my rib of dust. The garden was our womb: to nurture flesh, acknowledge bone, mold our souls in clay. We found our eyes, we heard our mouths, we filled each nostril full of sky, fingers tasted water, hands touched naked skin, bare as the fish in the four rivers, smooth as the serpent, who walked on subtle feet beneath the one tree, given and forbidden. We were pretenders, Eve and I, beneath its leaves of black and white. We played at being Gods below its fruit-filled limbs, imagined our posterity, and in the shade of its dark promise, we dreamed of immortality. Eden was our childhood, lived before the wilderness, before the curse, before Cherubim. And the Gods knew it was a garden like everyman's filled with only one choice.

Elaine Christensen (1948 -)

Source: At the Edges, published by the Utah State Poetry Society, 1990

Contributed by: Zaady

A Quote by Elaine Christensen on body, certainty, children, church, colors, fatherhood, good, husbands, justice, learning, life, mathematics, mind, motherhood, parenthood, passion, people, spirit, struggle, and words

Heredity: the transmission of characteristics from parent to offspring; I sang in church today. My husband said I tucked my chin a certain way and he glimpsed my father. I often look for him. I have his lips, his small, rounded teeth, though when I smile, people say they see my mother. Startled, I've seen her myself in store windows. My father seldom smiled. He told me, as a child he sensed his spirit struggling, wanting to get out, wanting to fly, to be free. "Life," he said, "is learning submission: spirit to body body to mind." "Mathematics," he said, "is good for the mind." He asked what color were my threes, my nines. His were red and green. They stood in lines. I squinted, tried to give mine color, lied, said they stood in circles, counter-clockwise. And when he sang, oh, when he sang he placed each note perfectly, chin tucked, the tone, precise. "Sound should ring''', he said, "right out the top of your head." When I sing I forget where to breathe, how to use my head voice, how to stand, how to project, everything, except the words. For me it has always been words, not numbers, not tone, not mind over anything, just words and the passion they spell. My poems embarrassed him. They were not metered. They did not rhyme. Yet today when I sang, I tucked my chin and some faint seed of him flamed, some spark of him flickered. And those who knew him saw him in me.

Elaine Christensen (1948 -)

Source: I have learned five things, 1995 winner, Nat’l Fed’n StatePoetry Societies’ manuscript comp

Contributed by: Zaady

A Quote by Elaine Christensen on birds, garden, giving, and indolence

IN AUTUMN, I write of days smoldering like embers to ash, grass, stiff, green-weary, waiting for somnolent winter, everywhere, gathered birds stuck in spindly branches and gardens done with giving. . . of air, over-ripe, indolent, like the last great cluster of grapes on the vine, which winds its way across the wall, tendrils turned to wood.

Elaine Christensen (1948 -)

Source: At the Edges, published by the Utah State Poetry Society, 1990

Contributed by: Zaady

A Quote by Elaine Christensen on awareness, birds, dreams, earth, garden, rest, timidity, and words

WAKING In spring I write of earth still half asleep, of matted grass and weeds not yet aware that stretching fingers stir the soil down deep and sift the frozen dreams of roots with air that breathes forgotten scents of blossoming. I write of branches stiff and gnarled with cold, like ancient bones that can't remember spring or how the sun could painlessly unfold each timid, paling leaf. I write of birds returning one by one. They leave their flocks for tempting caterpillars scrawled like words across my garden wall of crumbling rocks. These early signs of spring unthaw my brain from numbing winter rest. I write again.

Elaine Christensen (1948 -)

Source: At the Edges, published by the Utah State Poetry Society, 1990

Contributed by: Zaady

A Quote by Elaine Christensen on garden, gold, happiness, laws, love, motherhood, mountains, neighbors, passion, songs, sons, world, and worship

Last Request Maybe it's because the days are growing shorter, and each one starts and ends in cold, maybe that's why the sun on my back this afternoon is a loving arm--not a lover's, but a son's, the one who seldom comes anymore for love. Maybe it's because the mountain is now etched in white and the foothills, unafraid, blaze copper and gold and the sunflowers beyond my fence eye me, unblinking in their untamed gardens, and the sky, wholly blue, blesses my days with what even my mother-in-law would have to call happiness. Maybe that's why I think of her when the magpies who have squawked all summer from the roof of our tool shed come now reverently to worship beneath the mountain. Maybe that's why the one rosebush nearest the house continues to push tangerine clusters into the world, like my neighbor in her eighties who asks me to paint her fingernails Passionate Plum. There is something each autumn that presses against the wall, that commands me to make a last request: one more lark song, one last rose, petals tipped in yellow, a last look at our purple-leafed maple before it spreads its sequined cape across the grass.

Elaine Christensen (1948 -)

Source: I have learned five things, 1995 winner, Nat’l Fed’n StatePoetry Societies’ manuscript comp

Contributed by: Zaady

A Quote by Elaine Christensen on age, birds, children, darkness, god, ideas, joy, justice, learning, pain, people, sleep, and water

I Have Learned 5 Things 1. The sulfurous flame sunbeams in corners lightning like cracked glass the bulb of an idea your dark eyes all have one source. 2. Pain is truer than people truer than a full plate truer than God 3. Joy is a suitcase packed with everyday things no beaded gowns, no hats no umbrella just pajamas, a toothbrush, sneakers. If it rains stand there soak up every drop like applause. 4. I have learned that I want less: the sound of lake water lapping tadpoles listless in sun-heated shallows wispy grass, knobby reeds greeting me, my name caught in their raspy throats one or two clouds and a bird, maybe, if it doesn't sing. 5. Old age is where you started, a child looking up at the light at jumbled faces at mouths whispering, "there, now, go back to sleep."

Elaine Christensen (1948 -)

Source: I have learned five things, 1995 winner, Nat’l Fed’n StatePoetry Societies’ manuscript comp

Contributed by: Zaady

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