Sandra Maresh Doe

At the Mesa de May Studio and Art Gallery, Branson, Colorado

Sitting in Willard Louden’s Courtyard
I see he’s arranged chairs
In case folks want to sit. I sit.

Busloads of Santa Fe Trail buffs
Prowl his house, study
His paintings

Climb to new studio on the second floor—
Oils and oils of images—the painted
Desert and the southwest—

The rich cloudboil of high plains storms.
Mesas and canyons, one in the corner
Looks like Red Rocks Ranch.

I saw a cartoon of the studio raising.
A man from Kansas told me the board came from the one man mill
In Trinidad—thick timbers, “Big Timbers.”

I sit, study the artist’s South gate–
Pronghorns flicker, Native style
Petroglyphs in wrought iron

The sun, the moon, the mesas
Prairie grass and lightening
Cast round the Native New Mexico sun.

Stepping outside the courtyard I study the West gate.
An angel floats. The Native stair step
Sign on four sides: clouds….

-Sandra Maresh Doe

Sitting Under a Cottonwood Tree
on the Willa Cather Prairie, Red Cloud, Nebraska

for Kathleen Cain, who wrote The Cottonwood Tree: An American Champion, 2011

Kathleen knows a secret shape
to delight and convert
mere word notes to Cottonwood songs.

She’s named the leaves, species and genus.
She’d call the Red Cloud tree a split trunk—
the one my prairie heart rustles below .

I liken it to a long-married couple,
bound at the root, but drawn apart
each to a separate self.

Still, twin trunks soothe, and their leaves
intermingle. They share sunlight
shadow, a hill, a frog pond.

On the south side, he’s dried up
a bit, his lower branches
gone to kindling.

On the north side, she’s hardier—
both speckled
with golden lichen.

Where their trunks join
a reservoir of water collects
from plains rains, for hard times.

It overflows from their bark
cup, trickles down the west side.
Some resin drops glow

on her south side—like garnets.
Her bark’s split in several places.
Maybe she’ll go first.

They had two offspring. One died.
The other’s making it—
a spindly underfed youngster.

Maybe the trees in the hollow
are cousins. Of course, I sing
a metaphor.

Male trees have purple pollen shafts–
it’s female trees who cotton
the plains for progeny.

The wind stops its rustle.
The still fills with the notes of a lark.
In each twig knuckle: a star.

-Sandra Maresh Doe
September 28, 2007

On Ogden Street

Face plant–
teeth meet concrete–
cracked alluvial plate.
I feel like a landscape–
the Rio Grande River
In cracked upper plates.

My face, stricken with road rash
looks rust with yellow pus.
Sentenced to soft food—
and wearing a night guard for the next four weeks
I am “lucky,” not like the bicyclists who fly over bars—
(And the dog rolled in something foul, had to be locked
In the stairwell all night, shampooed with extra care at PetCo
just after the dentist, the X-Rays, the diagnosis, the orders, the second opinion—
delivered and picked up the dog. What a lovely dog!)
I am “lucky” to have good care, to get and give—
maxio-facial guy said so.

South Valley Physical Therapy
Vestibular systems are the ones
by which the Inner ear
speaks to the body in space.
Vestibular systems say,
“Here’s where
you
step.”

Here is eye information communicated to ear.
Vestibular systems know
that what the eye sees
is sometimes an illusion
that sometimes you substitute a curb for a pavement.

Vestibular systems you can override with the feet,
planting the body in space.
Foot information shuts down the inner ear, says
“There, there dear,
I know where we are.
I’m more powerful. Follow me.
Step where I step.
I’m smothering you, dear ear. Can’t breathe?
Pity. At night you’ll fall flat.
I’ll betray you—like so many lovers—
we’ll be alone in the dark, bleeding.”
There, there, dear.

-Sandra Maresh Doe

Czech Tales– A Story about Dad

So, in the summer of ’09, I had a Czech vacation or two. By that I mean I drove to Wilson, Kansas, “The Czech Capital of Kansas” for its annual After Harvest Czech Festival: saw the little children in their native costumes dancing the dances of the homeland around a May Pole. Witnessed the parade, Czech Queens and Queen Candidates riding in convertibles and waving. The Nebraska Czech/Slovak queen came down to Wilson to support the Queen Contest, and all these girls wore their Kroi–puffed sleeves, embroidered vests, aprons, lace petticoats , Czech heritage and the like. I ate Czech food at St. Wenceslas Catholic Church: divine for the dilled potatoes in white gravy, Kansas tomatoes, cucumbers in sour crème sauce, cucumbers in vinegar sauce, and blood sausage and roast pork and kolaches. I bought
four dozen kolaches to bring back. Ah. And, like a sleep walker, I went to a store and purchased frozen Hoska—for Christmas–even though it was then June.

Then I flew to Nashville, TN where the Czech Society of America was having their Annual Get-Together. What’d we do? Watch the Queen candidates and pick a new queen—my second Czech vacation.
I heard the previous queen give a talk on Czech culture: how to make a kolache. She was preaching to the converted, but, you know, you have to bring up the next generation.

Here’s the part about Dad: For an extra forty-five dollars you could take a ride on the General Jackson, a river showboat holding 600 passengers and 150 of them Slovak or Czech extraction. After
we’d cast off from the Opreyland dock, and eaten our family-style dinner, the waitperson said to go out to the open air deck and look at Nashville, if we wanted, and the Czechs at my table—
all from Cedar Rapids (Lodge Prokop Velky # 137)—did want to see. At dinner, they had been saying how sad they were that the National Czech and Slovak Museum had got destroyed in the Cedar River
flood of 2008, how they had gone down to salvage the baking equipment at least, and how the Health Department wouldn’t let them, made them throw it all away, how they might not be able to rebuild.

So, I am standing on the deck of the General Jackson, saying to Majorie Pace of Cedar Rapids that the big Nashville skyline buildings look like R2D2 and Darth Vader. Seeing my nametag from
Denver, I suppose, she tells me story about this gentleman, elderly, who needed a wheelchair to tour the Czech and Slovak National Museum.

“He was in a wheelchair already.” His name was Maresh, and his father was a Czech-speaking Doctor and surgeon in Iowa City,” and I realized she was talking about Dad. She doesn’t know that my maiden
name is Maresh. “That sounds like my dad,” I tell her. Majorie says, “I asked him if he knew CSA or Lodge Mile High Czechs, and he just beamed. He was so pleased.” I picture Dad in his wheelchair, his
cane propped on a footrest, wearing a plaid shirt and suspenders, his sunglasses tucked into his shirt
pocket, wearing his bucket hat. “He told his wife to get out a check, and he wrote the check for one hundred dollars,” Majorie remembers, as she has been giving tours for thirty years.
“You have some memory,” I tell her. But she can’t remember what happened yesterday, and her voice is going now, she tells me. “I told him to make it out to the National Czech and Slovak Heritage Center.”
It would be just like him—our generous Bag Dad.

I feel tears behind my eyes on the deck of the General Jackson showboat on the Cumberland River.

-Sandra Maresh Doe
8/30/09

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3 Comments

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3 responses to “Sandra Maresh Doe

  1. Kathleen Cain

    I am SO GLAD to see Sandra Doe’s poetry here–at last! She has such a fine, strong voice, “straight as a yard of pump water,” to quote what someone once said about Senator Margaret Chase Smith. And Doe is just as likely to douse you with a cold awakening as she is to settle your senses. Brava, Doe! for your prairie sensibilities–and thanks, Carson, for sharing her work on Crossroads.

  2. This makes me very happy to see Sandra’s poems here! She is one of my favorite poets and one of my favorite people! ❤

  3. Sandra was not here earlier for lack of invitation. Her standards are as high or higher than mine. Ultimately, the quality of the poetry at Denver Crossroads convinced her this was a good place to be. When she read “Czech Tales — a story about Dad” to me, we both cried. Bonus points if you can make me cry.

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