As to me I know of nothing else but miracles, Walt Whitman by Amy Small-McKinney

As to me I know of nothing else but miracles, Walt Whitman

I wake: Place my feet on the blue-gray rug.
Move slowly toward the bathroom, the sink

requiring cleaning. Then notice,
in the mirror, the miracle of aging.

Then notice, in my bed,
the miracle of you, who almost didn’t find me.

The white forest of your chest,
your thighs reminding me of baobab trees

that grow without buckling, that can live
for three-thousand years, can shelter

up to forty people inside the safety
of its trunk. We are old and in love.

And I thank the universe, thank whatever
I can thank, maybe trees, maybe that cloud

shaped like a basket filled with zinnias.
And know there is no end to this poem, no end.


Amy Small-McKinney is a Montgomery County PA Poet Laureate Emeritus, 2011. Small-McKinney is the author of two full-length books, Walking Toward Cranes (Glass Lyre Press, The Kithara Book Prize, 2016) and Life is Perfect (BookArts Press, 2013), as well as three chapbooks, including Body of Surrender (2004) and Clear Moon, Frost (2009), both with Finishing Line Press. Her most recent chapbook, One Day I Am A Field, was written during COVID and her husband’s illness and death (Glass Lyre Press, 2022). Her poems have appeared in numerous journals, for example, American Poetry Review, Banyan Review, The Cortland Review, Comstock Review, Connotation Press, Inflectionist Review, Pedestal Magazine, Persimmon Tree, Tiferet, SWWIM, and Vox Populi, and is forthcoming in Verse Daily. Small-McKinney’s poems also appear in several anthologies, most recently, Rumors Secrets & Lies Poems About Pregnancy, Abortion & Choice (Anhinga Press, 2022) and Stained, an anthology of writing about menstruation (Querencia Press, 2023). Her poems have also been translated into Korean and Romanian. Her book reviews have appeared in journals, such as Prairie Schooner and Matter. Small-McKinney has a degree in Clinical Neuropsychology from Drexel University and an MFA in Poetry.

Two Poems by Amy Small-McKinney

A Widow Opens Her Window

Crepe Myrtle leaps out from behind the fence.
Red lips. Wide open, wet from rain.

A revolt of hues refuses to turn away.
Antonyms of refuse: allow, accept, meet.

I see my new lover walking the path to my house.
Where we’ll meet, not a pristine fence. The blood

oranges inside. The wild luggage of our hearts.


By Laurel Lake

Tell me again—

The shape of the wave
is like a half-tube on top of the water
concentrating light into the shape you see.

You see at the bottom of the lake, that curvy line,
as the wave moves, the line of light
moves with it.

Oh, the lines of light, that concentration along the wave—

Look now, the lines of light no longer short
against the floor of the lake but diagonal
changing as the wind changes.

Look, now the lines have become nesting eggs—
Like us, half-moon inside half-moon.


Amy Small-McKinney’s third chapbook, One Day I Am A Field, was written during COVID and her husband’s death (Glass Lyre Press, 2022). Her second full-length book, Walking Toward Cranes, won The Kithara Book Prize (Glass Lyre, 2016). Small-McKinney has been published in numerous journals, for example, American Poetry Review, Pedestal Magazine, Baltimore Review, Connotation Press, and Comstock Review, among others. Several of her poems are also forthcoming in the December issue of Banyan Review. Most recently, she is a contributor to Anhinga Press’s new anthology Rumors, Secrets, & Lies: Poems about Pregnancy, Abortion, & Choice. Her poems have also been translated into Romanian and Korean. Her book reviews have appeared in journals, such as Prairie Schooner and Matter. Her current manuscript, still looking for a home, was a finalist with Trio House Press, White Pine Press, and Barrow Street Press. Small-McKinney was the 2011 Montgomery County (PA) Poet Laureate, judged by poet Chris Bursk. She has a degree in Clinical Neuropsychology from Drexel and an MFA in Poetry from Drew University. Small-McKinney resides in Philadelphia.

Five Poems by Amy Small-McKinney


I can’t stop thinking that/

I will never swim again
I have unlearned the strokes
that keep my head above water
   you held me above the wave
while you sunk below     knew
I was afraid that I am afraid
of everything      out there

I can’t stop thinking that/

the sycamore you loved
by our window will
smack into the glass that protects
me now that you are gone      that I am
a gold-yellow leaf      a leaf       falling
into the dumpster below      sinking into
guilt and confusion

I can’t stop thinking that/

I will wake tomorrow       not a leaf
but a bear      a bear
wandering into
the wrong world      searching
for a stream
   I crouch over my cub
hold her     she will not drown

NOTE: I can’t stop thinking that/ by Sarah Vap, from “Winter” (Noemi Press, 2019) PRESS


Tending to Living Things

There must be a way
but all I know to do is throw
my white dishes rimmed with blue
orchids across a room
until all that I have is broken.

Except for one self-sufficient succulent,
I don’t know how to make anything live.
There must be a way
but I don’t know how.

I want to bury myself inside the dark. Stand inside
invented light. While the world falls apart,
my husband’s brain swells with lakes.

Pink roses that sprawl across the apartment
building’s metal fence don’t need me. I’m not
their caregiver of blossoming.

Grief does not ask me
to be pretty, does not ask me
to be a corsage pinned to a gown.
It wants me to push up from roots
that scarcely survived, enter
its plain door.

I want to push my husband in his wheelchair along our rutted
road as though Travelers Joy— Clematis vitalba
scrambling a lattice fence to flower next year.



Music on the vintage radio
as falling leaves stopped in mid-air.
Air reveals itself for the first time
as a body or a car leaving a driveway.
If this doesn’t make sense look
out the window as air waits for snow.
Air knows what is worth waiting for
and what is not.
I want to be air
wait with brilliant patience unafraid.
I know it as air knows snow.
As a body knows air when it cannot catch its breath.
If able, every day we breathe in at least sixteen kilograms
of it. This is not wisdom.
This is eating boiled eggs buttered toast
food reassuring as snow.
Animals need to eat, true?
Need to breathe the oxygen in air.
Don’t conflate air with oxygen. That’s a mistake.
We also breathe in its poisons—too much kills.
That is the problem with air
and love. I don’t want to live
without either. I mean
it is impossible.
What is beautiful about air
is how it helps to move water from vapor to ice
to sublime again. Holds my love as he tries
to transfer from couch to table and back to couch. Knows
he will be ice and vapor. This is what we all become.



I see him on the red couch
waiting for me.

Unruly papers keep falling
to the floor.

No floral aroma here; only
the odor of goodbye.


During The Pandemic You Are Dying At Home

Sparrows nibble at your blanket
dive in and out of the eaves of your mouth.

Wings rimmed with tatting.
Tattooed beaks add color to an otherwise

bland room. The hard-working birds
will not speak to me yet.

This is not the life I planned.
Now the sky closes its doors and trees shrink

into fetal positions. Your body shrinks.
You forget where you are where

you are going. Your hospital bed tries to explain:
You don’t belong anymore.

This is not the life we planned.
We are breezeless our window won’t open.

I wait with the sparrows for a sign
to kiss your confused mouth goodbye.

You say:
   “I’m moving three across three down.”
   “What if my pee is poison?”
   “Get me my shoes.”


Amy Small-McKinney’s poetry has been published in numerous journals, for example, Connotation Press, Construction, American Poetry Review, The Indianapolis Review, Tiferet, Anomaly, Ilanot Review, Pedestal Magazine, and is forthcoming in Baltimore Review. Her poem “Birthplace” received Special Merits recognition by The Comstock Review for their 2019 Muriel Craft Bailey Poetry Contest. Her second full-length book of poems, Walking Toward Cranes, won the Kithara Book Prize 2016 (Glass Lyre Press). Small-McKinney’s reviews of poetry books have appeared in several journals, for example, Prairie Schooner. Her poems have also been translated into Romanian and Korean. She resides in Philadelphia where she teaches community poetry workshops and private students.