Three Poems by Laura Ann Reed

If Not For The Ghosts

At first, I think it is a small bird stirring
in the dogwood. But no, it’s only the dead
colors falling through what is alive
and still ripening.
                 If not for what memory
holds it would be enough to love and die
quietly as do the quails under the bay trees.
It’s the ghosts that keep me at my desk
learning how to say that being with him
was the same as entering a field of wind naked.


Burning The Lover

I’ve been thinking about the letters
I send to the man in Lourmarin
and how, for years, I hear nothing
from him. His wife must be
burning my words. Most likely
in the fireplace. He would be close
to eighty now. Maybe warming
his bones the way my grandfather did.
Turning his back to the flames.


Where Words Can’t Go

An autumn night. Light poured through the café’s
open door. Outside, a waiter moved in shadow
with a tray of expressos. I saw a face in profile
a few tables away. The man turned. Want to go
dancing, he asked. Adding that there was a boîte
close-by. French for nightclub. Also for box.

As in a shape that contains what is invisible.
The story inside what happens.

Only the saxophone player knew what to do
after the power went out. The slow tunes
that danced us through the unlit room.
I can no longer hear that music, though
the small of my back recalls the hand
pressing me to a stranger’s chest.


Laura Ann Reed, a San Francisco Bay Area native, taught modern dance and ballet at the University of California, Berkeley before working as 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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