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"Moor Hen" by Andrea Rich

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Peggy Heinrich

Is this what it's like?

a fog bank lacking the impatient horn
of a ship’s sad bell; no rolling over
to watch sunlight filter through curtains
no stretching tight muscles
no chill splash of water
no acidity of orange
no bright yellow yolk spilling
across the white plate of morning
just loosely stitched eyelashes
limbs stiff as boards
the cushion of breath retreating
as bliss ushers in a host of angels
chorusing your favorite song


The dentist offered my ten-year-old self
a reward for keeping still.
Inside the glass vial a small gray blob
quivered as if alive.
Back in my sixth-floor apartment
I sat cross-legged on my rug and set it free.
Its shiny surface added light
to the darkness of the room.
An index finger sprang it apart.
A few more pokes, it broke
into a line of gleaming beads.
Tired of the game, I shaped it whole
and coaxed it toward the vial.
It rolled off the rug, scattered
on the wooden floor and slipped
into crevices between the boards.
True to its name, it was silver, it was quick.
I think about the ones who live there now,
oblivious to vapors drifting upward from the floor.



The day I bought the painting
(a flock of pastel triangles
soaring in the corner
of a cream-colored canvas)
I thought I heard his "no" from far away

I unhitched his favorite painting
(a brown staircase rising through blackness
to an orange ball of light)
                   again I heard that "no" from far away
(or was it merely wind rasping
on the corner of his gravestone?)

The day I hung the painting
I leaped into its silence
(on legs limp from years of saying "yes")

I bounded from the house
followed by a swarm
of three-sided birds
crisp pastelinos
that sailed above the lawn
juggling sunlight
dodging tree trunks
flitting over footprints 
that I stamped into the grass.

[published ELF: Eclectic Literary Forum,                                     Fall 1992]

Two Altars

          for Achara

Among blossoms fading and alive
she sits and sifts through photographs:
the husband twice her age, the boy
whose mind surpassed his peers
while limbs and spine shrank tighter
every year, the boy who would not live,
they said, past five, confounded the predictions
by ten years. Rarely did the three complain,
just questioned why, then kept the answers
to themselves.

Set up a year apart, an altar for each one.
She refreshes flowers, offers food,
indicates a photo in which son and husband
hug and smile. They are my teachers.
They offer Buddhist lessons filled with love.
See how close they were. I talk to them and cry.
Present gone, her past awaits in Thailand,
far across death’s unmapped border.

Peggy Heinrich's poems have appeared in Verdad, Future Cycle, the new renaissance and many other small press journals. Her seven books of poetry include "A Minefield of Etceteras" and "Sharing the Woods." She has also published a collection of her tanka and one of haiku, both with photographs by John Bolivar. She has studied with Ellen Bass, Robert Bly, Carl Sesar and others. She moved to Santa Cruz eight years ago after many interesting but cold years in New York and Connecticut.

Vinnie Hansen
Helene Simkin Jara

Jeff Burt
Patricia Grube
Peggy Heinrich
Robin WT Lysne
Aimee Mizuno

Morton Marcus Poetry Prize Winner
Marsha de la O

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