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Shelby Graham

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Rosie King

I Flew Low Over Gratiot Road

      The weeds believed me, and the nesting birds . . .
      The worms were delighted as wrens.
                                           Theodore Roethke
For the dew on the lilacs
I let one foot, the other, dip down
above the roofs of the houses of my childhood,
let my light body graze
the blossoming tops of the chestnut trees,
candelabras all the way to the cemetery,
and there, slip into the tunnel
we go to, the scent
of hyacinths, the wet green fur
sprouting from the stones.

Light Among the Ruins

Lintels worn and weathered,
the temples of priestesses
on cliffs above the sea.
I climb into the blue
where the sun warms the stones . . .
and then, around my face
a shiver of air.
                     Whose hands
place the necklace of turquoise and white shell
over my collarbones?

I walk to the cliff-edge,
look out a long time over the water,
the breastbone
rises a little higher
and falls,
the throat opens
to a well of tears:
It was a song my father sang,
his heart song.

He never saw Tulum
or climbed these flights of stone.
One time                                                                               
he saw me troubled,
told me gently,
You’re my daughter.

Old and nearly blind
that last  summer
I wheeled his chair
to the edge of the grass,
he looked up to see the moon
and wanted to know
were the stars out.

On Starlight
My foot’s in the stirrup
leg up and over, a pat to her neck
dark filly born on my birthday
mine since I was eight and now she’s back
taking the lead around the orchard
apples red and yellow heavy on the trees
through the woods thick with birch and pine
breathing with me so steadily
I know she knows where we’re going
a path where we’ve never been

Some nights you're blessed

among trees
people you’ve never seen
mingle warmth from hand to hand
and melt
until they are beams of light woven into a rope
that tugs you in

where a man whose eyes sparkle into yours
lifts his young girl
this is my daughter
she puts her face close to yours
you say  hello beauty
she smiles  hello love

the light of day
the splash of water on your face  
daffodils burning in their blue and white vase
the calendar open to two jays on a branch
it’s Spring  
the first day


All poems previously published in Time and Peonies.

Rosie King, born in Saginaw, Michigan, had Pulitzer poet Theodore Roethke’s sister, June, for 9th grade English, went east to Wellesley College, came west in the 60’s for graduate school, taught the beginning poetry workshop at UCSC in the 80’s while finishing a dissertation on the poetry of HD, and is grateful to be living where she first landed in Santa Cruz, close to a beach and in a house where poets like to meet. Her first book, Sweetwater, Saltwater, was published by Hummingbird Press in 2007, and her new collection, Time and Peonies is just out.

Charles Atkinson
Wilma Marcus Chandler
Diana Hartog
Rosie King
David Sullivan
Ken Weisner


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