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Prayer Woodcut by Bridget Henry
Woodcut by Bridget Henry

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Amber Coverdale Sumrall

Starting from Scratch

I want you to kiss me the way
you did when we knew nothing

of one another, when your dark eyes
burned like nettles against my skin

and time stretched out before us,
a swathe of red silk

Take the watch from your wrist
Let the second hand spin

Bring me the just-born refrain
of your lips and tongue

Leave all that you’ve learned at the door


Early bloomers,
irrepressible light bearers,
the color of clear spring skies,
my mother’s favorite Easter dress,
the purest blue flower it is said,
created to match Mary’s eyes.

Tiny stars appear in the stone walkway,
drainage ditches, beneath redwoods,
take over the iris and tulip beds,
seedlings multiplying like bees,
who emerge cold and sluggish
from their hive in the woodshed,
to find pollen waiting after March rains.
They cling atop each blue wisp
swaying like aerial dancers.

When I walk the garden pathways,
blossoms spill blue confetti,
and my thoughts lose their winter weight,
become airy and light as spun honey,
a wild humming in the heart.


How many bolt at the last moment,
seconds before the bullet leaves
its chamber: deer, rabbit, duck, wolf?
The click of loading, a sound carried in bloodlines.
Some instinct garnered in stillness, the absence of language.
And the fish, how do they learn to ignore
the shimmering lure, the flashing red egg?

He fishes the alpine lake waters,
so clear you can see almost to bottom,
glimmerings of rainbow trout
too canny for the hook.
He is a seasoned hunter, brings home
enough for the freezer, invites
hungry women to sample his catch.
I was one of the lucky ones who got away.

Amber Coverdale Sumrall

Amber Coverdale Sumrall was born in California and has lived in Santa Cruz County since 1972. She has edited or co-edited thirteen anthologies including, Storming Heaven’s Gate: Spiritual Writings by Women, Catholic Girls and Women of the 14th Moon: Writings on Menopause. She leads Write to the Heart workshops and writing retreats in Santa Cruz, Big Sur, Point Reyes, and in Ireland. For twenty- six years she has co-produced In Celebration of the Muse, an annual literary event featuring Santa Cruz women writers. Her first book of poems, Litany of Wings, was published in 1998. Her second collection, Refuge, was published by Hummingbird Press in November 2007. She has been featured on Garrison Keillor’s The Writer’s Almanac and is a 2010 recipient of the Santa Cruz Cultural Council Gail Rich Awards. She is working on her third collection of poems.

Spring 2012

Elizabeth McKenzie
Paula Mahoney

Sarah Albertson
Vinnie Hansen
Neal Hellman
Stephen Kessler

Buzz Anderson
Anna Citrino
Arthur Streshly
Amber Coverdale Sumrall

Plays & Monologues
Wilma Marcus Chandler

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