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Liz Kay  
Rite of Spring
You and I make love
as if it’s spring,
though there’s frost all around,
and the lilies
have yet to interrupt.
Birds forego their formations.
No reason to fly
south now that the seasons
have forgotten
their order.
You clear
the leaves from the pond
and the water sits
crystalline, free
of algae and other life.
I can feel the iris
in the hard soil, the tulips
polishing their cups. Tell me
the words
to set things right.
Debra Wierenga
Chiller Pansies
Your pansies died again today.
All June I’ve watched them scorch and fall
by noon, their faces folding down
to tissue paper triangles.
I bring them back with water, words,
a pinch, but they are sick to death
of resurrection. You planted them
last fall, these “Chillers” guaranteed
to come again in spring. They returned
in April—you did not. You who said
pick all you want, it just makes more!
one day in 1963,
and I, a daughter raised on love
and miracles, believed it.
Jennifer Anne Moses
from Angels of the Lake
Six women died during that one year, all but one of cancer, and that one, Shelley Saltz, had had cancer years before.  It was strange, five women, all with mailboxes jauntily announcing their family’s presence on the North Road, houses that dotted the shore of the lake, summers spent, picking wild blueberries and baking them into pies and pancakes, summers spent first with children and then with grandchildren, and then, as chemo, nausea and bone loss took hold, not at all. 
          The brightly colored mailboxes (Nedra Frye had personally painted hers yellow with uneven pink polka dots) remained, as did the houses on the shore, the sailboats, the battered canoes, the smell of rain, the collections of pinecones and children’s drawings, but most of all—it goes without saying—what remained were the husbands.  It took no one by surprise when, just a year after Ellen Trowbridge had died (ovarian cancer), her widower, Calvin, showed up in the wedding pages of The New York Times with a woman he’d apparently known for better than thirty years, though, according to the text that accompanied a photograph of a beaming, bald Calvin with his clearly crinkled and sun-dried bride, the two of them had never lived in the same city. The last of the families to have “discovered,” as the summer people said, the beauty and quiet loveliness of Lake Lantern, the Trowbridges were considered to be somewhat on the flashy side, always improving their property, which wasn’t modest to begin with.  Hardly: where once a three-bedroom wood-shingled cottage had stood, there now loomed three large and handsome houses with enormous plateglass windows gazing west, as if posing for the cameras, with the lake lying majestically beneath. Just three years earlier, with Ellen bloated and shaking from endless treatments and talking about who she wanted to speak at her funeral, Calvin had put in a tennis court. Now he and his new wife‑—a Frenchwoman by birth who’d kept her name—could be seen batting the tennis ball around at all hours, sometimes to each other, other times in the company of other couples.  It wasn’t a problem: people were happy for Calvin.  He’d been devoted to Ellen during the long years of her illness.  Why shouldn’t he re-marry, and if his new wife was younger than he was, what of it? At sixty-something, she was hardly a baby herself. And God alone knew that Calvin deserved a little happiness, a little fun, before his own old age encroached, and the new wife (Susan? Suzanne?) was a sunny, friendly, sporty sort of person, happy to tell you about her own first marriage to an American she’d met during a college trip to the States, her childhood riding ponies in Normandy, and how in the end she knew she could never leave New York, where she and her first husband, a magazine publisher, had lived. “After forty years here, I am a New Yorker, no?” she said in her lovely accent. Calvin introduced her as “My beautiful wife.”
Mary Kay Rummel
Vegetable Soul
Your soul is a chosen landscapePaul Verlaine
Or maybe the soul is a still life
like Cezanne’s onions—crinkled skin,
astringent flesh, pungent breath
cushioned on a table like eggs in a nest.
They add depth to a stew without
becoming the thing like the blue wash
that’s part of the undercoat
part of the shadow.
His onions dance, green fingers
all grab and clabber language,
green flames sing in the hearth
in the throat of the wine bottle
the molecules that make up my skin
the air between our lips.
Or maybe the soul is the inside
of a butternut squash that I split
with a crack of the blade,
scoop seeds, oil flesh for the fire,
in my hands, generations of hands
repeating these gestures
and the anxious pleasures of testing
for doneness, the first bite that singes
the tongue and the voluptuous swallow.
Pallid offsprings of sun
warm winter bellies and glorify the bones.
Edible bodies with their miracle
of turning inside out.
Diana Woodcock
Gardener’s Dream in the Desert                           
“Remember, it is forbidden to live in a town which has no garden or greenery.” –                                                                                         Kiddushin 4:12
After China, I returned bent
on building a humble hermitage
beside a lily pond or stream
surrounded by bamboo.  After
Sausalito, a houseboat seemed the
only way to go—and lining my dock
with California poppies.  After
walking the Camino de Santiago,
lavender was all I wanted to grow. 
Reading Tolstoy, I vowed to trade my
paved-over cosmopolitan world
for a rural estate and live like a peasant
among fields of sunflowers.
But we all know how these things
go—wanting one thing and
ending up with its opposite.
Living in the desert now, laboring
over my tiny patio garden, I
imagine bamboo, poppies,
lavender, sunflowers growing
luxuriantly beyond my hermitage
houseboat on my rural estate at
the opposite end of this world.
But resisting cursing desert sun
and saline soil, I marvel how the desert flora
humble me to see with clarity all that lies
between Fish and Moon.
In the desert noon, only one desire:
to fall eventually like rain to earth
and turn to herb, or into the sea and
emerge as pearl.  Each dusk I pluck
yellow leaves from budless shrubs that all
day long have shrugged their spindly branches
at the sun, and I ask that I might be kept
“one day full fed and one day hungry,”*
and that the desert hyacinths (dhanoun)—
those radiant root parasites, might bloom,
however briefly, this year.
*from the Kashf al-Mahjub, oldest Persian treatise on Sufism, by al-Hujwar
Kay Sloan
from Give Me You


give orange me give eat orange me eat orange give me eat orange give me give me you
                                                                                    —Nim Chimpsky
          There is no time, he said, but he had died and no one heard.
          A stranger arranged his necktie and fluffed the satin pillow beneath his head while someone else folded his hands across his chest, stiffened so badly he hardly recognized his own fingers.
Across the city, his two sons and their wives are gathering clothes from his bedroom closet, debating which to keep, which to put in a box they’ve marked for charity. Give the blankets to the Hebrew orphanage in Brooklyn, he wanted to say, they will need it when the Great Depression hits, the one when his own father, Rabbi Meyer, planted a garden at the synagogue to grow the beans and tomatoes on their plates, and he wore his brothers’ hand-me-downs until he forgot what proper-fitting pants felt like.
          No time.
          Even if anyone could hear, what would they know? The turns of their calendar pages, their etched stones arranged to catch the seasons of the moon, their bronze sundials aligned to measure passing shadows? All inventions, he understood now, the foundation of the white-lied lives they live.
His older son is taking his gold pocket watch from the mahogany desk, and he eyes his brother before sliding the smooth roundness into the inner breast pocket of his jacket. For shame, Nathan! I’ll give you a whipping for that when you’re a boy. No need to turn it into stealing. It’s yours. It always was. Didn’t your mother teach you better?
          Where is Hilda? With him or with their boys? Then he knew. In a retirement village, where he once visited her after the divorce, before his body began its quick decline, his lungs filling with fluid that his heart couldn’t pump away. Why did he leave Hilda? Maybe he didn’t know why, even then. His life was headed elsewhere, that was all.
          His younger son, Gabriel, sticks his arm into the sleeve of his best jacket, pulled from his closet. His wife—what is her name?—is urging him to try it on, try it on, see if it fits. What a vintage look. A fabulous style, those wide lapels. Look how it suits you! She claps her hands, then stops herself, ashamed and takes a different tone. Seymour would be proud if he could see how handsome you look in his favorite jacket.
Dian Duchin Reed


Every time I see
this two-crowned
redwood tree, I frown,
sense I’m going round
in circles. Lost. A woman
on the edge, satellite
of someone else’s sphere
of influence. Circles
are perfect, can’t get
any rounder. Ptolemy
and Aristotle agreed
that’s how planets
must wander, that’s
why Dante went
through Hell in nine
downward circles
before he found
a perfect woman
to float him through
Heaven’s nine spheres,
all fears forgotten.
I’m uncentered,
not perfect, bound
to the wheel of karma,
delicious circle around
which I row row row
my boat forever, never
arrive, although recycling
is no perpetual energy
machine—all of us
wound down
by entropy, surrounded.
Lost, not found.
Look, that tree again.
Katrina Rutt
Map Song
Australia’s indigenous peoples use songlines, which are song cycles passed down from the Spirit Beings, to navigate vast terrain and identify sacred landmarks.
First you should know
you can sing your way back.
Say you’ve rounded a bend
you don’t recognize—
Say the thread of trail you’re on
Terrain wells up around you
becoming a trap
or a puzzle.
Mountains blur and collapse,
losing their names.
The twist of the river
suggests nothing;
there is no pattern
in the trees.
I know a people
who embed their maps in song.
They sing their way back,
as the landscape balks—
as it veils itself in shadow and light.
The song is a relic,
it leads to the ridgeline—
it rises up and knows where it’s going.
Ahead, there are signs we can’t distinguish,
the earth waits to be known.
We keep singing. 
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