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"Madrone Leaves”
Alison Parham

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Susan Freeman


                                                            for Susana Brown

Beyond the usual
measure of what is learned
and what can be taught,
deep and hidden like the
sweet green heart of
the alcachofa, armored
from external dangers
but tender and sweet,
is the gift of the teacher
whose heart is given
to children who
bear the burdens
of a border crossed.


                                                                                for M.

You once said, with sly delight, that the forest would steal back
what had been cleared and planted.

This would happen after you had gone, after all of us.
Now, without you, we have walked its edges and seen it coming.

At the conifer rim, where the path curves round,
coyote come out at night, sniffing for deer

closer to the house now, as if to remind us of law and balance,
what is borrowed and where our dominion ends.

Redwood seedlings, pine, fence the winter-wet earth,
their shadows encroaching on the orchard,

and the great madrone, upended by storms, splayed
near the barn where wood rats nest among apple crates.

There was always give and take in this place, and a fine line
marking how close we could come to its heart, to yours.


SUSAN FREEMAN –loves wrestling language out of a sense of place and the ironic contradictions of human life. A poet and visual artist with one foot in the world of public education, she teaches at Stanford University and in arts education institutes around northern California, collaborating with visual and performing artists to keep writing and the arts alive in schools. Her poetry has appeared in Red Wheelbarrow, Porter Gulch Review, Quarry West, Poets and Writers of the Monterey Bay, 100 Poets Against the War, and other publications. Susan has participated in the Muse since 1982, as well as in other readings locally, in San Francisco and Ireland. She lives in Santa Cruz with her life partner and two ancient, literary cats.

In Celebration of the Muse
Brianna Barreto
Donna Becker
Deborah Bryant
Ruth Elliott
Susan Freeman
Patricia Grube
Diane Dobrin Grunes
Geneffa Popatia Jonker
Sylvia Patience
Jennifer Pittman
Bernice Rendrick
Dena Taylor
Louise Thornton
Patrice Vecchione
Renee Winter
J. Zimmerman

Rosie King for Tilly Shaw

Barbara Bloom for Joan Safajek

Featured Artist
Alison Parham

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