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Poems by Holly Hickler

          On 12/7/01, Lisa Hickler sent in a selection of Holly's poems taken from a collection called
        "What Can We Pack And Take: The Maine Poems of Holly White Hickler.   Here they are, below!!

(August 24, 1958)

What can we pack and take - 
The lake?
The kids all tumbling by?

The sky?
The sound of pine and loon?
The moon?

The hearts content so long?
The song?

By fire, by friend, by wood
We go
and carry back the good
We know -
Nothing that hands can heap
We keep!

(August 13, 1961)
Demented Hymn of Praise at Arriving

Oh, sing a song of mileage,
Of endless turnpike toll, 
Of quarters fed like silage
And gas poured down a hole.

Oh, chant of window quarrel,
Of milk spilled down your shirt,
Of weary traffic snarl
And mustard on your skirt.

Oh, raise a rhyme of aching head
And spirits lacking cheer -
But even though we're slightly dead,


 (August 27, 1961)
Projection by Lanternlight

A bug's abroad
The woods are wet
Freud's a fraud
Durrell's in debt.
Shakespeare's bacon,
Milk's not cream
Things are seldom
What they seem.

(August 11, 1963)
Unrhymed Thought

The wind uprooted trees while we were gone.
And while we were not watching all the children grew

- All tall, all beautiful,
And some blown by their fortunes
Are growing in another way.

There is more sunlight now
And wider views.
While we were gone
The wind was here.

 (August 9, 1964)
Song for Departing Children

Taller than any mark on any wall,
Quiet and secret, gone from the open door -
We wave them through the woods and cannot call
The heart's last warning.  Now it is no more
That morning finds them but a house away,
That night will bring them back again to sleep,
Nor that we hold them through the simple day -
Children are lent to us, but not to keep.

Now empty-armed we watch the children go
Taller than any mark on any wall
And pray they learned from us what they must know
To keep the heart warm and the spirit tall.

(August 23, 1964)

We have been boat builders,
Fishermen.  We have talked late at night.
We have painted, loving color.
We have been swimmers.
There is among us some deep respect,
One for another,
Even in argument, even when we are wrong.
Perhaps it is the lake.  And in the end
Perhaps it is the clarity and candor of our waters.
We cannot count what we have learned.
Every year, we have all  been swimmers.

(August 8, 1965)
After Ten Years

I'll tell you how it was then - Andy was nine.
There was no beach then - only a board
Over the swamp to get to the lake.
There were more tents and we all
Hauled water.  There were hammocks
With babies in them and wooden ice chests.
There were no roads and more pine needles.
Alorie and Eleanor, Caddin and Peg
Were all teen-agers.  I'll tell you
How it was.  It was like all beginnings.
There was a presence among us.  It was a dream.
Not like our winter dreams
- A summer dream,
Filled with a simple light of sun and faith,
Filled with a shifting lanternlight design.
I'll tell you how it was.  Andy was nine.

(August 29, 1965)
Letter to Pete at Summer's End

The lake has seemed
Half-empty, Pete - I dreamed
You came to see
Us here in Maine and we
Showed you the shore
Wider this year than before.
And where were you
At the lobster boil?
And who left our tent
To fish at dawn and bent
To untangle line?
I call and make a sign
To motion you in
And ask you where you've been.

(August 20, 1967)
Poem in a Crisis

We stand and part the pine trees
To peer into the brake.
We tiptoe up the beach.  Who sees
A crowd across the lake?

Anxiety, with neon light,
A lurid hot dog stand
Flashes across our peaceful night,
Devastates our land -

For ghosts have come among us
To haunt us without pity
Ghouls who aren't indigenous -
Imported from the city.
Into our blue-jeaned company
The business men have strode.
Rope off the shore securely -
Bar every road.

(August 25, 1968)
Time and the Lake

Clear to the sandy bottom
Like a child alight with joy.
Forever like the sky -
And kind like love.

We stand and watch
The mild, enduring water
From the shore and cry
"Look at the Lake!" -

As travelers return 
To rest the heart with home,
As those who, blind and doubting, seek the light,
As those who learn a freeing truth
Illuminate the mind.

Then changeless as the lake our hearts endure,
Accepting gain and loss and loss and gain
And, flexible and shifting as the shore,
We tolerate the seasons' sun and rain.

Our oldest has been wedded in this year
And our youngest swims.
Let us say blessing here.


 (August 10, 1969)
In Praise of Foundations

Women have always known what builders know:
Foundations must be strong and nature-proof -
Dug below frost, impervious to snow,
Bearing the weight of walls, the thrust of roof.

Beginnings tell us much - we can foretell
How stone and lumber will assume their size,
What must be feared in storm, what weathers well,
We can predict how tall the walls may rise.

So we have dug the tilting, stubborn earth,
And labored with the grain of building wood.
Women and builders are concerned with birth
And all our children grow to adulthood.

(August 17, 1969)
Waiting for Lumber

Let poetry reveal the core
Let love be safely stored
But deliver me a two-by-four
and an outside sheathing board.

Let souls be strong in faith
Let eyes be blessed with sight
Just rumble up with lath
And an adequate upright.

Bring songs alive with sound
Let trumpets speak in brass
But offer me some quarter-round
And a  sturdy window glass.

So beg and borrow for a dream -
Just bring me one old-fashioned beam!

 (August 24, 1969)
Advice to Mothers in the Woods

See the man within the boy
Trust the woman in your daughter
Let them find their special joy -
Never, never scan the water.

Find your own forgotten truth
Swim the lake on all that floats,
Remember humor, strength and youth -
Never, never count the boats.

Let them venture, let them stumble
Knowing always hope won't dim -
standing ready, loving, humble
Do not seek to help them swim.

(August 9, 1970)
On Bridges in Maine

We span the gap with what comes close to hand:
Touch or speech -
And sometimes in the night,
Mapless and clumsy,
Stumbling in the sand,
We call to one another.
Still by light we labor that our bridges will survive
And bear whatever weight the years contrive.

Time makes us fools and nature cannot sleep.
What cleverness may go to stone and plank -
And yet, untended, bridges do not keep.

The roadway founders on eroded bank.
Truth will confront us,
Nature has its chart -
We must be menders and vigilant of heart.

 (August 23, 1970)
Rainy Sunday

What shall we do with rain?
It shrinks our landscapes.
We are all alone with sorrow.
Still outside my cabin 
The pine endures -
Our wells fill up again.
Since the paths are wet
I do not take them
But they lead to friends

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