Elegy for Debbie of My Childhood by Susana Gonzales

Elegy for Debbie of My Childhood

You of the frilly floral dresses
chosen by your mother
before you were old enough
bold enough to say enough
of dresses. You of the silly smiles
and sleep overs over at my house
or yours before time took
over and grew us into women.
You of the popsicle summers
and swimming pools pulling
on rubber bathing caps pulling off
tricks off the diving board.
You I sing you nine years old.
You I praise you fearless running in rain.
You I laugh you cheerless. Who dared
to be the first to try, to climb,
to jump from. So brave the first
to enter the dark. So clever
to hide where I could not seek.

*

Susana Gonzales was raised in the Air Force and has grown to see the world through multiple lenses. She lives in southern California with her wife Suzanne and German Shepard Kennedy. She has been published in Sheila Na Gig, Gyroscope Review, The Santa Fe Literary Review, Muddy River Poetry Review, Drunk Monkeys and As You Were: The Military Review.

Four Poems by Todd Davis

A Very Small History

Fire burns inside the stones
unearthed with a plow. Long dead
is the horse that dragged them
to the cellar hole where the farmer’s sons
stacked a foundation that still clings
to the hillside and the hearth
and chimney where smoke curls
into night. He tells the chair, the one
his wife sat in each morning
as they had coffee, that he’s gathered
this wood from a windthrow
pitched over in a spring storm.
After running the saw all afternoon,
silence is a comfort, and the warmth
of this old flickering calms his mind.
Above the eaves cold descends, helping
to cure five cord he stacked in October.
The moon is absent. The dispassionate stars
provide little light to count the rings.

*

Angry Elegy

All summer long the forest burns
and the stream above and below frays
like a broken thread.

In the deepest water along the dam
trout settle like silt, just enough cold
to survive beneath ash.

With each step a cloud of cremated bone:
elk and deer who couldn’t outrun fire,
bear engulfed in a den of flame.

Through the open furnace door
wind blows down the valley
and the tyrant says to rake the gold,

to pry it from the teeth
of our fallen dead.

*

Orphaned

Sky descending
toward black.

Last pink
at the brink
of the western-
most mountain.

A star
brightening.

A mother’s voice.

Like the sound
of water
at the seep
before it continues
the work
of wearing away
the gap
in the stone.

Saying
Lodestar.

Saying
This is how
you find
your way
home.

*

The Crabber’s Mother Tells Him about His Birth

Your face looking up
through the water, breaking
the water’s surface,
and your eyes opening,
the sky reflected there,
and also the limbs of trees
that hang over the river,
and the flying bodies
of heron and osprey,
the wing-beats of migrating
thrushes, and the water
washing around
your cheekbones,
the water dripping
from your chin
as you open your mouth
to cry for the first time,
dark hair matted to the skull,
current dragging you
gracefully out
into the estuary,
floating your small body
to the coastal town
where you will be born.

*

Todd Davis is the author of six full-length collections of poetry, most recently Native Species, Winterkill, and In the Kingdom of the Ditch, all published by Michigan State University Press. His seventh book, Coffin Honey, will be published by Michigan State in February 2022. He has won the Midwest Book Award, the Foreword INDIES Book of the Year Bronze and Silver Awards, the Gwendolyn Brooks Poetry Prize, the Chautauqua Editors Prize, and the Bloomsburg University Book Prize. His poems appear in such noted journals and magazines as Alaska Quarterly Review, American Poetry Review, Gettysburg Review, Iowa Review, Missouri Review, North American Review, Orion, and Poetry Northwest. He teaches environmental studies, American literature, and creative writing at Pennsylvania State University’s Altoona College. http://www.todddavispoet.com/