by

June 25, 2022

 

To an owl

Warm nest
Downy feathers, soft moss
The owl’s old bones shake as
Axe seeks heartwood and the world falls from
Atlas’s shoulders

Owl had
lived here for years,
was planning one last autumn
in this familiar place, before the long dark
took her

But now,
she is falling, and
like Icarus, her wings fail her
She will never again see snow, endlessly reflecting
Moon, heaven

The man
was looking towards winter
working for a roaring fire, always
been told that his diligence and hard work
were virtues

But when
he regards lifeless owl
he feels something cold as sin
He picks her up, petting her soft feathers
And whispers

“I didn’t mean no harm”


Author’s note: This piece is inspired by the poem “To a Mouse” by Robert Burns and the novella “Of Mice and Men” by John Steinbeck


Blue River

There is a strong river
Over the hill from my grandmother’s house
And although she does not know my name
She knows how and where I learned to swim
Picked up by the back of my shirt and waded in
She knows how I have grown
How skinny arms and slender legs have gone from floundering in the shallows
To fighting currents just to see if I can
She knows my laughter, my voice
Which of the rocks lining her bed would be my first, second, third choice
She knows where I learned how to fish,
Silver hook and knotted line diving in and out of the water with a flourish
She knows my sisters, my mother, my grammy, my father
She knows how I’ve hoisted my cousins on my back so they could see or jump or throw…just a little farther
She knows the curve of my rubber boats and the soles of my bare feet
She knows my wild, tangled hair and the flutter of my heartbeat
She knows what I’ve been searching for
From raccoons,  walnuts, and mushrooms to birds that soar
She has been with me
Every time I’ve fallen in, flipped the boat
Gotten everyone soaked
She always knows the way back home
Guided by currents and hickories and gurgling foam
No
She does not know my name
But she knows who I am


The Sky is Going to Kill Me

The sky is going to kill me
 at 12:35 tomorrow
I know because the trees have told me
Great sequoia and sapling oak
creaking voices heavy with prophecy
"Stay inside"
The flowers beg
heads bent forward with tears
Bleeding hearts and winding white honeysuckle,
crying
"Stay inside"
The insects counsel me
Sleepy cicada and fragile monarch
"Hibernate until the wind forgets,
until the sun burns out its fury,
until the clouds turn their anger on another"
But I know the sky will never forget
even the rivers and the hills know this
I cannot spend my life tucked away,
hiding and afraid
"Do not cry for me"
I tell them
Voice like earthquakes and mountains
"I have stood before many storms
I have braved time and tide and man
So let it try
Let it try to take me"
And I step out into the sun
And dare the sky to try and shake me

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