Mass Transit Offers Captive Audience

If you find yourself riding one of Portland’s ubiquitous buses, trolleys, or light-rail commuter trains, you might be able to get in some quick poetry reading—care of Reed. Maxine Scates, a visiting associate professor of creative writing and finalist for the Oregon Book Award, is one of five poets whose work has been selected to appear in TriMet vehicles in a program called Poetry in Motion. Alumnus Vern Rutsala ’56, a finalist for the National Book Award in 2005, was also selected. Poets Lisa Steinman, Kenan Professor of English and Humanities, and Jim Shugrue, trade book buyer at the Reed bookstore, have also seen their words ride the rails in recent years.

Forgiveness, by Maxine Scates
(in Black Loam, Cherry Grove Collections, 2005)

Or maybe it was summer again
when I saw the women lifting clumps of irises
staking them, tying
the heavy blooms, those imperfect flowers
so full of beauty they broke their own stalks.

Maybe that twilight
or all of those twilights rising together
like herons from the flooded fields
I began to know forgiveness . . .