Poetic License

When I feel sad


unsure of where I belong

I invite the poet in.


She will remember

the soft yellow-gray belly

of the mocking bird

vibrating as he trills

high above me

on the outer branch

of a tree

at the edge

of the bridge.

Darn, I can’t remember what kind of tree it was.  Its branches were stiff and bristly, a conifer of some kind.

Then the poet steps in, flashing her license, and asks, which name sounds prettiest in your mouth?  Spruce, pine, cypress?

 There is a rhythm

to language

and to life.

You pulse within it,

whether you are aware

of it or not.


After a February lonely

without rain,

the ravine under the bridge

is ugly and dry,

the only water puddled

in a long narrow ditch.

Filled with brown liquid,

a cold muddy brew,

a deep gash leading

to a bundle of sticks—

a beaver lodge perhaps?

Only a fallen tree?

I don’t know, but there are no beavers now.  No movement, no life.  But wait:  there is a turtle, perched at the edge of the brown water, his neck stretched out, his sharp skinny tail bouncing with a sudden flutter in his back legs.

He doesn’t slip into the water.

He doesn’t jump.

He isn’t impulsive.

He will wait,

contemplating his next move.

Here.  Alone.  Armored.


I rely on my poet.

I ask her to sweep in

to create a beautiful picture.

Or failing that,

some kind

of order,

a bit of comfort.


She’s good at that.

She hands out words

like bus tokens.

You can go somewhere else.


Photo by  Sarah Wardlaw on Unsplash

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