In snowless winter woods,
tree trunk skeletons
raise brown branches
toward grey skies suspended
softly inches above.
Oaks cling to their few
remaining dry dead leaves,
like a mother, aware too soon
her children will be lost.
Under foot, crunch of leaves
mold into the feel of soft mulch
as dog and human wind their way
through the forest maze
of deer trails and undergrowth.
Wet water creek burbles past,
rushing downhill joining stream,
then river. They follow,
air damp, breath visible.
It is in March I forget how hot
and airless the back seat of my parents
two-door, un air conditioned 1955 Pontiac
was as we drove to our new desert home.
In March desert air changes from dust to green,
the sun not murderous but soft, makes ocotillos bloom.
In summer for a respite from the heat we spent
weekends in Prescott surrounded by Ponderosa Pine,
watching horses round the far turn of the half mile
track, cheering them on with our nickel bets.
On our way home we’d stop at a little cafe
for homemade tamales, rice and beans.
Halfway down the mountain burros inhabited
the roadside rest, daring rock strewn cliff face
in hopes of carrots. The sun’s reflection guided
us to pieces of geodes scattered on the ground.
In March I watch the midwest snow,
and remember sitting atop North Mountain,
feel the breeze, smell the rain and see
storms cross the Valley of the Sun.
Kayaking After the Storm
Rain drops first, wind picks up,
then a curtain of water comes
from the other shore. A fishing
boat’s drone heard as it heads
home, stops moments before
even the closest shoreline
disappears. The drum
of rain constant on the cabin
roof, inhabitants settle in, wait
with books or jigsaw puzzles,
peppermint tea, popcorn, as we
watch for the storm to end.
Dark clouds move east, sun
appears in the west. Calm water
stretches shore to shore, the echo
of barking dogs, doors slam,
as birds begin to chirp. My kayak
and I move out on the lake, head
west toward the boy scout camp.
Blue sky grows, sunlight heads
further west. I reach the camp,
turn, an almost imperceptible
breeze heads me back home.
My paddle across my lap, I float.
Ahead of me, otters, or loon.
A slow, quiet approach, I avoid
even the sound of paddling. The shape
becomes a loon, caught as it preens after
the storm. Gradually closer, I wonder,
when will he dive? Turned away, he
cleans first one wing, the other, his
back. Not twenty feet away he lifts
his belly to the air, black bill working
intently, each feather visible. Waves
carry me past, he continues,
Snow covered lawns,
pale water colors
blue-grey at dusk,
mirror of snowless clouds.
A last glow off uninterrupted
snow as inked houses
long past their last sled
pulled home by mittened hands.
Gnarled hands, bent backs peer
through closed blinds,
when cars drive past.
The Park Bench
Every day, past
greystones, a walk
to the park, made
ever more slowly.
They ease onto their
worn wooden bench,
to shrink as they settle.
Their faces in repose,
a silent stillness
an aura of waiting.
He in faded fedora
and torn topcoat,
she hidden, wrapped
within woolen scarf,
and ancient mink, long
frayed at the shoulders.
A barely perceptible
movement, their fingers
searching for their mate’s,
entwining, holding on.
you my/bright particular/my star, my sun, my/other self, my bet-/er half, my one
Letter Poem # 3, James Schulyer
After supper, sit quietly.
Watch the fleeting firefly as dusk becomes dark.
Attend the constellations within our planet.
A timpani of bullfrogs resonates
under stars that shimmer, heavens that expand.
The smell of jasmine and mown grass in summer air
caresses cheek, fondles shoulder,
enfolds us in that bright particular.
Melissa has been a practicing Urgent Care physician for the past thirty-seven years. A couple of years ago she cut back on her work hours and returned to her love of writing poetry. Since then she has had work represent in The Plath Poetry Project, The Missing Slate, Indolent Press, What Rough Beast, GFT Press, L’ephemere Review, The Rising Phoenix, Ink in Thirds, Still Crazy and Writing Raw. Her first attempt at a chapbook received Honorable Mention in Concrete Wolf’s 2017 contest. She was also fortunate to be chosen as a Tupelo Press 30/30 poet.