Four Poems by Laura Ann Reed

How Triumph

She crawls across grass
to what unfolds golden among the green.
And becomes golden. Becomes silken.
Becomes petal, pistil, stamen. Becomes
the surprise of bitter on the tongue. Silent
but for random exclamations, she owns
the world. A few years later
from the back seat of an old Plymouth
she will cry out, flowers, pointing wildly
to the yellow mustard blooming
in an open field. Not knowing why
the triumph of her naming
is maybe also a kind of exile.


The Spell of It

Sometimes I think of the swing suspended
from a high limb and the child,
maybe five, who discovered transformation.
How her legs pumping were a kind of lulling.
Those movements trance-inducing.
The surrender of plummeting
low only to fling herself skyward. The spell of it.
The passage through the warm summer air
opening into a space where she could choose
to be a bird or visit the moon. She sings as if
the sky is listening.


Turning it Over

My father’s footprints, the safety
made by those shapes I stepped inside
as he led me to the water’s edge.
The polished bits of California jade
and carnelian placed in my open hand.
Pieces of rock I’ve kept locked away
long since I lost them. How his
dying would become another
stone I’d turn over and
over in my palm.


What Remains

That was the summer I lived in a plant-covered
house across the road from the ocean. The house
I remember is painted green and magenta
by the petals and leaves of a bougainvillea.
The vine climbs up to the second story
where I lie on a sagging mattress
reading a Life Magazine. I stare
at photographs of Norma Jean before
she became Marilyn Monroe. The sound
of gulls comes through the open window.
I can hear the surf pounding the stones
grinding down the sand into finer fragments.
I can hear everything changing into
something else.


Laura Ann Reed, a San Francisco Bay Area native, taught modern dance and ballet at the University of California, Berkeley before working as a leadership development trainer at the San Francisco headquarters of the United States Environmental Protection Agency. Her work has appeared in numerous journals and anthologies in the United States, Canada and Britain. She is the author of the chapbook, Shadows Thrown, (Sungold Editions, 2023). Laura and her husband live in the Pacific Northwest.

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