I. Seasoned




People are walking in the snow

In Sacher Park,

In its snowy expanse.

In the face of the white vision

That dances before them

They smile at

The clumps of snow on the trees,

They smile at each other

As if for a minute

They were exiled from themselves

And had reached a different region,

The district of most dazzling white

Within them.


                             —Ruth Gilead

                               translated by Esther Cameron






The nature of spring

newly alive and spreading green—

grimy winter windows whitewashed


to May, a sunset-breasted robin

across the yard

holds me astonished.



You’re old,

my grandson observes,

his short history sweet-scented curls


that fall over leaf veins

on the backs of my hands

he traces with a stubby thumb.



It is often on the way down I think

the sun makes my day

light’s great swill glazing hills


wild with the possibility

of even so—

of yet.

Ilene Millman




Bees burrowing deep into each flower

this late afternoon,

as if to make visible the world of things:

petal, sepal, leaf;

finely filamented anthers burdened

with hymnal hum;

a bee’s hind tibia smothered in pollen.


Jubilation of manyness, a busy thrum,

as she walks among

the flowers. No threats, no stings. A few

fluttery encounters.

She longs for more. More murmurous bees

humming in her hair.

More warmth of flesh paired with flower –


less brevity, more hours.

The bees continue to work the garden,

sipping from quince

and plum, the purpling sage. She lingers

in the dusk.

The coo, coo-coo of a morning dove blues

the air like a sorrow.

—Constance Rowell Mastores





A wild anise that grows on the slope

outside my window slowly merges

into a featureless forgetting,

a mythic world that does not hold

its shape. I close my eyes, drift

away, lose sight of leaf and flower.


Startled from a dream, I wake,

gaze upon a structured world

of cedar, redwood, pine.

The wild anise on the darkened

slope recomposes, comes alive:

Toothed leaves. Clusters of small

white flowers. Stark. Bright.

Particular. Never so white as now.

—Constance Rowell Mastores



This Hour in Summer


White lilies lean over the soft dark grass of a summer evening

glows and hums unsettling

in this hour, in this only hour

all whispering of love and loss and desire

swift and strange as fairy lights

translucent and vertiginous the milky swarm of stars

the purplish shadows of the past lurking through the trees

spilling like a dark hood

this hour gives one more moment with the moon lending her light

and the ghostly forms of flowers close their mouths and bend and pray

in the crying mists

and creatures fly their fantastic ways

and we leave to restless lives

such is this hour

if you follow it

in summer.

—Susan Oleferuk






 These deciduous plants adorn

the lawns on which they lavish panicles,


large white flowerheads, growing

among spear-shaped evergreen leaves.


The bushes are as showy as their flowers

that are often thought


to resemble pom—poms.

Every spring and summer, I observe


their enormous blossoms bob among

their greenery as if noticing


someone one hasn’t seen for however long

and whose name is momentarily gone,


as I forget their names every season.

The flowers bloom steadily through


midsummer into August lushness,

then begin their pink


blush in the late summer coolness

among the first harbingers


of the frosts of autumn.

Each year the flowers are dried and sold


on roadside stands to celebrate the turning

of the great wheel of summer.


And each year I finally remember, then forget

until next season, when the hydrangea


bloom so whitely, while my memory slips

away ever so much from year to year, until


it maybe lapses entirely:

Hydrangea, may I remember your name,


as I might inhale your spicy fragrance;

may I recall in winter


the murmur of your petals

whispering on the summer wind.

—Wally Swist



The last water lily


The last water lily

 of the fall butters

a browning pond,


a single gold fish

fell asleep beneath

the shrinking sun spot,


two morning glories clamber

into the noon hour of this—

their last day,

and their first.

—Vera Schwarcz




Seen on a night in November


How frail

above the bulk

of crashing water hangs,

autumnal, evanescent, wan,

the moon.

—Constance Rowell Mastores





Dark comes earlier and earlier now;

night sooner in a thick winter jacket.


From a nearby hillside drenched in shadow,

wild turkeys, with a great flapping


of wings, head back to the same old

redwood, the same old roosts. And I,


who only a month ago could sit outside

with a glass of wine and marvel


at the turkeys’ embrace of sky,

now peer through a kitchen window,


see no more than my face mirrored

by darkness, pale and odd, startled


by time. And I, who only wished to be

looking out, must now keep looking in.

—Constance Rowell Mastores



Fox Abandon


Awakening to the motion

detectors going off in the barnyard


is not anything new

but detecting motion within those


parameters is, sensing

there was something more to it


than the feral barn cat stalking

rodents.  Raising the shade,


the fox must have heard me, or

seen my reflection in the window;


and it wasn’t as if I didn’t

have to exercise patience, knowing


how long the lights stay on

out there, aware that because they


stayed on, something slinked

in the shadows of hedge or barn.


When she appeared

in her regal red finery, not without


decorum, her tail nearly as long

as she was; the whimsical,


wry smile; the ears perked;

her exquisite gait that of a dancer,


her legs and feet propelling her

smoothly across the ground


in more of a glide than a trot

or a brisk bound, as she ran to


the peaked shadows

and between them, darting from


one point to another, possibly

running down a mouse, before


cavorting into the winter grass

north of the barn, the brilliance of


her coat catching different tones

of color, from a glistening blonde


to a wizened fox red, in the glare

of the spotlights, as she


eventually sprinted into

the darkness several hours before


the early spring dawn, which

would break over the ridge


she must have tracked over

by then, igniting the full palette


of her coat, as if she

had dragged it behind her across


the hills, and it caught on

the edge of the treeline, lighting up


the edge of the sky with a color

as bright as her quickness.

—Wally Swist



Seven Stages of Drought


the drought was worse than any that came before it

or, does memory elongate it like summer shadows?

we do not speak of it

though between us words hang as heavy as over—ripe fruits straining the vine

we step carefully around them

to acknowledge them might lend them validity

in the beginning, we recall the first condition of growth

the insistent refrain of the first cell

pushes and pulls its way toward water

we do not say so

to say so might prevent it

separately, as if in private grief,

we stand vigil over the dry, cracked earth

peer down on its mute lines

as if we could decipher a forgotten language

we do not share this hope aloud

we might extinguish it


we grow sullen as hot wind

we think of dead things

dried shells, limp wings, empty cases fill our minds

we do not refer to them

naming them might give them power

we identify ourselves as do orphans

by what we lack  


when the drought finally ends we run for cover  

we run from the cool rain scented with the fragrance

of blossoms it has drenched before it reached us

we distrust the rain

as if it threatens our identity

     but in the night

     we hear it throb against the pulse of fear

     we listen until we distinguish one beat from the other

     when we recognize the heart of rain

     we embrace like old friends


and we are careful to speak of it

as if that will make it last

—Judy Belsky