Woman on the Balcony sandra dorr
She leans on the silver railing in her nightgown,
limnal as a flower in the afternoon light.
Warm winds stir the air. No one
left in the parking lot. Still. Hot.
Breathless from the few steps,
she pillows her head
in her arms.
Below her summer gardens shine,
flowers of pure color, roots floating in water,
as she is floating, on the threshold, she knows,
a woman with dark eyebrows, old dressers of clothes,
one grownup son, years of houses in Vaud,
the dinners made, the bills paid,
the moments with Joe –
her heart fluttering, slow now
but still she stands, keen, and grips
a cool railing, gazing down to the gardens
spread out under trees, the bees crawling in
the blush of lavender, the deep orange center
of Cheyenne spirit coneflowers,
roots drifting in water,
as she is drifting and she holds on –
She is Juliet
she is Demeter
she is Persephone
she is changing, changing,
into all she has known and read –
she is Changing Woman,
a purebred root drifting in water,
sunlight aching in her head –
surrendering to the wind.
She becomes Isis on the Nile,
fertile mallow reaching up for her.
How smooth the pine penstemon, tall white iris,
columbine that dance like medieval jesters
in maroon yellow suits, with tipped boots
around the butterfly garden –
her arms weak as ribbons –
but mouths of velvet violet petunias, scalloped
into wings, open upwards to her,
fading and blossoming, tint of
petals singing in the sun,
the water trembling in the cups of the flowers –
all just below her.
She lifts her hand, swims in the wind
to touch them, still clinging to the railing
though everything is moving is turning liquid,
every living stem is speaking, footing the air –
it was different before when she could grasp
each person, each thing, name its meaning,
each of the moments each day here has
changed everything, the other years
of her life are wallpaper, gone,
her mother is down there
examining the curl of lilly,
the twirl of poppy, the tiny heads
of rose gold verbena, trailing down the
sides of heavy, omnipotent clay pots.
The slow stately roll, side to side, of
the long fingers of willow.
She catches her ancient eye,
smiles back, wraps her light arms
around her cotton gown, takes in
the whirl of birds diving around her,
rosy breasted finches, flickers,
juncos flying in to sing welcome, goodbye.
A line of clouds sleeps in the sky,
old streambeds, long boat-shaped
islands worn white,
soft as old songs,
far away –
yet a woman’s arms
are as long as the sun.
An untethered grace comes.
She reaches into the light, soars
to become part of them, buoyant,
at once each thing, each one –
©2018 sandra dorr from This Body of Light (Hope West Press, spring, 2019)
In the Wind Rivers sandra dorr
In the night come signs of his
blood cancer, its fingers ready
to grasp my beloved, curling up.
Instead we throw open the tent
to red sun blazing on Haystack Peak,
and in the velvet shapes of dawn
is a doe, head down, biting an apple
we left out on the ground, her
dun body thin as a child’s.
She turns, tries to make us out,
then bends her perfect curved head,
new as the sun, back to the fruit.
We stay mute to hear her chew
in the cold half-dark that moves like
a heavy soft blanket we’re sharing,
until I turn my face towards her
body emerging in the light – she startles,
leaps, and flees into the trees.
What loss, what wonder in us,
stepping into her air, remembering
how infinite small motions we make
will alter a wild life and its place.
Published in Deep Wild, Vol. 5, 2023
Below the Grand Mesa sandra dorr
When the lake moves, gentle,
one long wave into the bay,
home of land, small moons breaking
on dark water, leaves fountaining
into the wind, I understand
that when I disappear,
nothing will be missing.
Published in Deep Wild, Vol. 5, 2023
The Stomp by Melinda M. Rice
Have you ever heard of the Stomp? He's a bird
quite raucous and bold.
He comes to the shallows amongst the rose mallows
and hosts a big party, I'm told.
It's only at night when the moon's full and bright
and people are nowhere around
that Stomp will appear. If you're lucky, you'll hear a mixture of avian sounds.
Lured by night life, birds come at Tinailight,
leave perches to dance by the moon.
Magnificent magpies with tux, tails, and bowties,
are drawn by the call of the loon.
First, mockingbirds sing, then Stomp spreads his wings
and raises his beak to the sky.
He skips across rocks. He does the moonwalk.
He can't fly, but oh! he is fly.
Next peacocks join in the delirious din
and strut about fanning their plumes.
They request a slow dance, a pause for romance,
while whipoorwills steadily croon.
But that doesn't last, the Stomp likes it fast.
He turns to encourage the others.
He demonstrates pop, does the wop and robot
with chickadees, bluebirds and plovers.
The Stomp with his feathers like magnolia leather
shares moves that no day bird would know.
He's bound to impress as he teaches the rest
to boogaloo just like the pros.
From ostrich to wren, both roosters and hens
become the most serious of flappers,
all bending their knees with Charleston ease
in sync with the woodpecker rappers.
Safe, deep in their bower, they party for hours,
until the first hint of the sun
when Stomp stops their songs to tell them that dawn
now signals an end to the fun.
Then poof! they are gone, the egrets and swans,
no sign of the fabulous Stomp.
Not a footprint or feather shows they were together
all hobnobbing down at the swamp.