Parallel Lives – a poem by Janet Krauss

Parallel Lives


As if yearning to reach further, you lean forward 
of fluttering new leaves that soon choke out 
the summer sky, or chiming a copper tune
in autumn, or in mid-winter wearing
a thin shawl of light as quiet patches of clouds
pass by, your branches sparse in the cold air,
you wait for the wind to signal which way
to bend or sway. I learn from your dance.

Janet Krauss, who has two books of poetry published, “Borrowed Scenery,” Yuganta Press, and “Through the Trees of Autumn,” Spartina Press, has recently retired from teaching English at Fairfield University. Her mission is to help and guide Bridgeport’s  young children through her teaching creative writing, leading book clubs and reading to and engaging a kindergarten class. As a poet, she co-directs the poetry program of the Black Rock Art Guild.

The Last Daylily – a poem by Diane Elayne Dees

The Last Daylily


The last daylily of the season
bloomed alone, a reminder
of both the beauty and fragility 
of every living thing. 
Its orpiment petals shone
through the curtains,
as if locked in an elegant dance
with the golden glow of the floor lamp,
which—bending toward the window—
paid homage to the sun.
Hemerocallis, “day beauty,”
survives drought, frost and disease,
yet each flower lasts only one day.
When the sun fades, 
it folds itself into submission 
to the rhizome’s destiny,
having completed its small role
in a life so much greater than 
the consciousness of blossoms.

Diane Elayne Dees is the author of the chapbook, Coronary Truth (Kelsay Books) and two forthcoming chapbooks. Diane also publishes Women Who Serve, a blog that delivers news and commentary on women’s professional tennis throughout the world. Her author blog is Diane Elayne Dees: Poet and Writer-at-Large.

Dogwood – a poem by Hannah Hinsch

DOGWOOD  
 
New leaves pearl 
toward yellow lamplight. 
 
They grew when my  
eye was away.  
                     *** 
My tears mist rose-colored  
dusk that catches   
leaf-edge and  
burns.  
 
The leaf is a red that  
stains and never leaves— 
a light upon a closed eye. 
What could pierce me more.  
 
Transfixed  
alone, fingers bleeding  
from the parchment-edge 
where she struck her revelations, 
she sees his face in a  
nimbus of fire and  
cannot touch it— 
 
only look, as the  
light remains,  
for the moment. 
A leaf pressed between pages.  
                      *** 
I settle into the old path and  
remember its grooves, 
where the dogwood faded  
to pink in summer. 
 
Now, it doesn’t bloom, but 
waits at the street’s end, 
suspended in amber  
just before the fall. 
 
In rusting light,  
I see it differently  
each time I follow the bend. 
My steps follow what they know.  

Hannah Hinsch is a Seattle-based writer who graduated summa cum laude from Seattle Pacific University with a degree in English Literature and fiction. She was the editorial intern at Image journal, a leading quarterly that joins art and faith, for two years. Hannah writes across genres, and finds her impetus among Greek mythology, the Old and New Testament, and in the green, salt-soaked Pacific Northwest. Hannah not only sees writing as an exercise in aesthetics and attentiveness, she leans into writing as a way of knowing, a hermeneutic of God.  

Waterdrops – a poem by Preeth Ganapathy

Waterdrops

Leaves shimmer like
green candle flames
on wooden branches

Waterdrops,
the size of two rupee coins
thrum against glass panes –
the notes of a lullaby.

Dusk rolls a velvet
carpet for
the moon to coat stars

with milk at the mountain
tip, listen
to the melody of water.

Sleep,
a dragonfly
alights, knowing it is warm
in the folds
of silence.

The grey sky
lowers her feet
on the uneven marble floor
bracing
to land in a puddle.

The moon has turned
out dry. Her white face
untouched by waterdrops.

Preeth Ganapathy lives in Bengaluru, India. Her work has appeared or
is forthcoming in a number of avenues such as Origami Poems Project,
The Buddhist Poetry Review,  Better Than Starbucks
and Young Ravens
Literary Review
.  She is also the winner of Wilda Morris’s July 2020
Poetry Challenge.

Onuma – a poem by Maeve Reilly

Onuma


What then is your name? 
The name that claims you as a dweller of the earth.
It may not be that name you were given, the name
that certified your birth. 

What now is your name?
The name you name yourself to rectify your worth,
you know– your bark and sap name, your wing 
and fin name, your lichened rock and hidden river name. 

The name your feet print 
step by step as you walk on dirt, 
as you walk over bones of the dead–what then
is the name the trees will know you by
when you return? 

Maeve (aka Jeri) Reilly is a writer from Minnesota who spends part of each year in Co Sligo, Ireland, where she once lived. Her most recent words can be found in Dark Mountain, Utne Reader, and The Lonely Crowd (forthcoming). She is currently learning Irish in solidarity with her ancestors and with the land. Tweets @MaeveWriter

Shadow & Bough – a poem by M.J. Iuppa

Shadow & Bough
 
Behold— the space
between shadow & bough
where two red pears sway in
 
ripeness— hidden in thick
green leaves swelling inches
above my head— like all
 
temptation is a two-handed
plot of rustling the goods with-
out disturbing the balance of
 
bodies— I know how to pivot,
reaching deep into that space
without suffering a slip that
 
would give me away in this
pinch of fruit that drops
into my ready hands.
 

M.J. Iuppa’s fourth poetry collection is This Thirst (Kelsay Books, 2017). For the past 31 years, she has lived on a small farm near the shores of Lake Ontario. Check out her blog: mjiuppa.blogspot.com for her musings on writing, sustainability & life’s stew.

Cup – a poem by Alfred Fournier

Cup


Someone whose cup is full has no need. 
Nothing new can be poured into them.
Someone whose cup is dry is thirsty, 
grateful and accepting of whatever rain comes.

Let this be no delicate shower. 
Let it be the storm that pummeled Noah—
a flood to drown a world				
of preconceptions.

Let it hoist the spirit on wild swells of trust,
creaking arc, wondrously alive—
scratching, slithering, whinnying,
with a host of marvelous beasts. 

What one can do in this universe is small.
What might be achieved
with open heart and diligent hands			
is enormous and sacred.

If God can be found, let Him be found in art.
Let Him be found in service, a readiness to act,
and in the sensual pleasures of sun on vine after rain.
Bird returning with the tiniest of twigs.

Alfred Fournier is a writer and community volunteer living in Phoenix, Arizona. His poems have appeared in Plainsongs, The Main Street Rag, Third Wednesday, Kind Writers, Ocotillo Review and elsewhere.

Mizu – a poem by Tamiko Mackison

Mizu (Water)

I wrote the kanji of your name
In water on a paving stone in the garden

Each brushstroke a prayer to heal you
The sun stole the first letter before I finished

It was impossible to compose your name in full
Even when I raced through it

Life: one second within the stretches of time
A droplet that splashes, stains and fades

Ending almost as soon as it begins

Tamiko Mackison studied Latin and French at New College, Oxford. She is raising two young children. When there’s no pandemic, she’s hired as a wedding pianist from time to time.

Flutter of a Wing – creative nonfiction by Fay L. Loomis

Flutter of a Wing

“Hi, Becky. I’ve got a pair of silver tiebacks that were carried back from China in the 30s. I want some knotting done on them. Can you recommend someone?”

“Sure can. Stephanie. She’s the new girl in town. Seems to be able to do most anything.”

Stephanie spoke smartly.  “Sure, I’d like to do the job. Sounds interesting. I can be there in twenty minutes.” 

When she pulled up at the curb, I went out to meet her. She was as colorfully dressed as her van. Hmm. HippieWonder why she emigrated from San Francisco to our quiet little town in Southern California.

“Hi, I’m Stephy,” she said, pushing back the sliding door of the van. “Want to see my invention? It’s for disabled people. We need to do everything we can for those who need help.”  I stared at the contraption of cobbled wood, metal, and foam, crammed behind the driver’s seat. Her passionate flow of words failed to help me understand how this Rube Goldberg machine was going to help anyone.

I was relieved to go inside where we pored over knotting books from the library. When I had thumbed through them, I had been fascinated by the evolution of the practical sailor’s knot into exquisite art forms.

As if by osmosis, Stephy understood what I wanted and sketched out an intricate design that complemented the silver work.

“I’ll buy the cording tomorrow,” I said. “When would be a good time for me to drop it off?”

“Call me as soon as you have it.” 

 I parked in front of the hulking barn and slipped through an open door. Large sheets of fabric, appliqued with abstract shapes, hung on the walls of the workshop that was dominated by a commercial sewing machine. Hey Jude filtered through the swaths of cloth. 

“Hi, Stephy. You look busy.”

“I’m working on these panels that will be used as a backdrop for the Ramona Hillside Players’ next performance. Got my pedal to the metal.”

“I thought you just moved here. You sure don’t waste time.”

“Nope, got too much to do. Love that teal cording and giant tassels you have in your hands. Let’s go upstairs.  I’ll show you my place, and we can have some tea.”

We went outside, moved around the end of the barn, and hiked up long stairs that seemed none too sturdy. “Got to get these rickety stairs fixed. Been busy with lots of appointments.”

We weaved our way through a beaded curtain into a generous space.  My eyes were drawn from one interesting pocket to another, before they were pulled to her bed – queen of the room. The canopy, made of lovely twisted branches, was draped with diaphanous slices of pale blue chiffon. In the back, I spotted a 50s dinette table, surrounded by tree stumps. Quaint, though not my idea of comfortable seating.

“Why don’t you settle in, while I make tea?” 

I sat in one of the huge arm chairs Stephy had covered with a purple and red flame stitch pattern. Much as I loved that restless design, there was way too much of it for me to feel at ease.

She swept her arm toward the shelves behind me and said, “My object d’art collection. Really, objet trouvé, found art. I can enjoy these odd bits that I fancy or create pieces of art from them. You know, like Duchamp and Cornell.”  Wow, she knows some things. I hope she knows how to knot.            

Stephy placed funky mugs, with coiling snake handles, on a low table in front of the chairs. We drank wild sage tea made from leaves she had gathered in the field behind the barn. 

I headed for the door, shot a look over my shoulders at the jade fibers, and questioned whether she would be able to pull off this piece of art. 

I got my answer a few days later. Stephy phoned to tell me she was on her way. I nearly gagged when I saw what she had done. How could she have possibly thought I would like this gaudy stuff.  I didn’t let her down easily. “Stephy, this isn’t the design we agreed on, and I really don’t care for all the brightly colored beads you tucked in. All this busyness detracts from the simple beauty of the tiebacks. What happened to the sketch you made?”

“Sketch? I forgot about it. Sorry. Got lots on my mind. I’ll go home and redo it.”

The next time around, she had the knotting just right. She had added a simple silver bead that delighted me. “You hit the nail on the head,” I said, as I handed her a check.

“Thanks. I enjoyed creating these pieces for you. I’m glad Becky suggested you call me. Before I go, I want to give you a gift. I’ll get it from the van.”

She handed me a sorry looking rag doll, much too large and too ugly to be at home in a child’s arms. The once white figure, now a dingy grey, had elongated proportions, especially the flat head, outlined in metal knobs, and the flouncy pantaloons, all of which made it look like a caricature. Around the waist was a string of miniature objects: a beehive of twined rope, a wooden birdhouse, a metal watering can, and a round something with a dangly wire that defied description. When I looked closer, I noticed that the objects hung from a wire binding the doll’s wrists. A long stick, with a sign that read “HERBS,” was tucked inside one arm. The pièce de résistance were metal wings attached to her back. No doubt: the gift was created from Stephy’s found objects.

A flood of déjà vu washed over me: another godawful creation. I hid my feelings this time and said, “Thanks, Stephy. Let’s hang it on the patio.” She beamed at her child dangling from a hook.

A few weeks later, Becky called. “Hi, I’ve got some bad news. Stephy died while waiting for a liver transplant.”

“What? She never said a word.”

“Not to me, either. Or, her mom.”

“I’m blown away. 

“Me, too. The funeral is over, and her mom asked me to come and help clear out her belongings.” 

“Thanks for letting me know, Becky. I’m too upset to talk right now. Call you later.”

I sank into the couch, my eyes drawn to the beautiful silver tiebacks, enhanced by Stephy’s stunning design. Why should I be so shaken?  I hardly knew her, didn’t think of us as friends. 

When I moved from California to New York, I surprised myself by packing the gangly doll—even more so by hanging her on my deck.  How had I allowed her to entwine herself into my life, why was she still clinging to me as if for dear life? 

A few years later, on a brisk fall day, I was sweeping leaves and my many-colored-broom snagged something. I looked down and saw Stephy’s doll crumpled in a heap. After twelve years, she had finally bit the dust. Time for this clangy pile to make its transition to the garbage can. 

I lifted the lid, ready to release the droopy tangle. My hand froze and inexplicably reached for scissors to clip the threads that held the wings to the doll’s back. Light caught the curlicues that danced around the edge of the metal, revealing etched words. 

The letters were traced in gold—gold as pure as the knowledge in Stephy’s heart that life can change in the flutter of a wing. “My wish is that we could have done more things together. But that can’t happen. I just wish you a great life every day as best you can be happy.” In the center was her signature: “Angel Stephy.”

I sucked in my breath. “Thank you, Stephy,” I whispered, as my hands folded over my heart. 

Fay L. Loomis lives a particularly quiet life in the woods in upstate New York. A member of the Stone Ridge Library Writers, her poetry and prose have appeared or are forthcoming in The Closed Eye OpenLove Me, Love My Belly, Rat’s Ass Review, Ruminate MagazineHerStry, Sanctuary Magazine, and Burrow.

Where I am – a poem by Sarah Rehfelt

Where I am
 
There is no religion here.
The way the earth bends in this light,
stretches out from here
and rises to form mountain tops
is more or less gradual.
From here,
you can see for miles.
Everything is connected –
rock and tree and sky.
The wind pulls waves across these fields
in an ever-changing, almost rhythmic pattern.
I am here.
This is what I came for.

Sarah Rehfeldt lives with her family in western Washington where she is a writer, artist, and photographer.  Her poems have appeared in Presence; Blueline, Appalachia; and Weber – The Contemporary West.  She finds inspiration in the close-up world of macro nature photography.  Favorite subjects include her garden; the forest; cloudscapes; and the ever-plentiful raindrops of western Washington.  You can view her photography web pages at:  www.pbase.com/candanceski