M has served as an Associate Poetry Editor for Stirring: A Literary Collection for the past one hundred years or so. Her work has appeared in a variety of online journals -- Pedestal, Word Riot, The Dirty Napkin, Prick of the Spindle, Babelfruit, Juked, The Rose & Thorn, and others. She also serves as an Administrator of on online poetry workshop called Wild Poetry Forum. She is currently working on a poetry manuscript that focuses on the mid-twentieth-century Italian immigrant experience. In the few seconds a month when she is not working on these projects, she reads mostly novels, walks along Portland’s bustling city streets with her man, and is grateful for the enormous amount of love in her life.

Two women in the garden of the ward
“I had a farm in Africa, at the foot of the Ngong Hills . . .
In the day-time, you felt that you had got high up, near to the sun, but the early
mornings and evenings were limpid and restful, and the nights were cold.”
~~ Isak Dinesen, “Out of Africa
On restful mornings, Emma and I tie crimson bandannas around our heads. We are told the florid color will make our movements through the garden easier to track. For security we must share a single pair of pruning shears. Only the red-headed woodpeckers who nest in dead trees accept us as their own. Old growth branches of the butterfly bushes need heavy pruning, but Emma’s hands are clumsy and her clippings modest. The tranquilizer has left her tentative. Each cut, the nurses assure, will move her nearer to the sun.
She does not speak ill of anyone but herself. I read to her of Blixen’s farm, slightly bitter scents of coffee-blossoms. She asks if she might smell the pages as though perfumes could linger there. Emma is loved by someone poor and must leave this place when the money runs out.
One limpid evening, I knot the end of my bandanna on the branch of a sawtooth oak; I imagine the fabric hangs like the newspapers say Emma did in the cold of the night. I hack so far into the heartwood, I know the butterfly bushes will not live. A legion of woodpeckers ascends, bow their red heads in deference to me on their passage to more hospitable climes. I have cut with so much passion the pruning shears are split in two, yet I find myself no nearer to the sun.
(Featured in three candles)

Complaint to Betsy’s shoe, found in a bowl of popcorn at 8:00 a.m.
This is new. Yesterday you camped
in the refrigerator, the morning
before, slithered under the toy box
like a Coral snake making Betsy late
and me crazy. You hang on too long
after the bite.
You and her Chatty Kathy doll
are in cahoots. You have the sense
to be quiet, but you yank Chatty’s cord.
She jabbers at me unabated
about schoolmates and Barbie dolls,
ballet classes and SpongeBob SquarePants.
Your grommets remind me of ties
that bind – shoelaces, clinging vines,
apron strings. Another mother in Baltimore
glides into her children’s room at night,
suspires for the rise and fall of small chests
like billowed sails in Chesapeake Bay.
They breathe, she breathes easier.
I slump in the kitchen, swallow another slice
of birthday cake, use eight tiny candles
as bayonets to stab Betsy’s uneaten lasagna.
How do you feel when you’re on
the wrong feet? You stick out your tongue;
I mash you into the frosting.
Outside the window, the postman places
a letter in our box, reconsiders, removes it.
Wrong address, recipient moved, change
of heart. Some awry deliveries rectified,
some scribbled in indelible ink.
(Featured in Pedestal, Issue 30, Oct – Dec 2005)

© 2009 M

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