Ordinary Substance by Laura Grace Weldon

Ordinary Substance

Our implausibly tough luck
suggests the floor is lava,
the apple is poison,
the underbed monster
is on the loose

yet proves, time after time,

benevolent strangers,
enchanted gardens, and
magic potions are also real
each entirely made of
an ordinary substance—


Don’t imagine some
sweet scented gauzy thing
held together with whispers.

Her power grows muscled
with use. It can be summoned
instantly, even during the most
wretched trials.
Especially then.

Gratitude’s face may be bittersweet,
but her feet
are on the ground.
Try to knock her down,
she will rise for another round.
She will rise and rise and rise.
You will rise with her.


Laura Grace Weldon lives on a small ramshackle farm where she works as a book editor, teaches writing workshops, and maxes out her library card each week. Laura served as Ohio’s 2019 Poet of the Year and is the author of four books. Connect with her at lauragraceweldon.com and on the twits @earnestdrollery.

Invisible Country by Laura Grace Weldon

Invisible Country

When I was a sad, sleepless child
I created a country only I could see.
Tiny trees, tiny birds and flowers,
tiny darling houses imagined in detail
to best please inhabitants
so small that my face, looking on,
might be large and distant as the moon.
When flowers grew thirsty,
I made soft rain fall. When I grieved,
I gave them holidays with songs, games,
gifts. Never let them hear
thunder’s rumble in my world.

I didn’t expect the people I tended
so sweet might argue, might bully,
might wreck homes I envisioned
as serene. Couldn’t figure out
how to bring order back.
Realized I’d made myself a god,
one with powers I didn’t want.
So I stopped ruling their world,
let them go on without me
in a country so free
I never gave it a name.


Laura Grace Weldon was 2019’s Ohio Poet of the Year. She’s written three poetry collections: Portals (Middle Creek 2021), Blackbird (Grayson 2019), and Tending (Aldrich 2013). Laura works as a book editor, teaches writing, and maxes out her library card each week. Connect with her at lauragraceweldon.com

Two Poems by Laura Grace Weldon

Falling From the Hay Wagon

I stand on square bales piled 10 feet high,
pushing them to the edge for others to stack
as July sun shoves between barn boards
in hot dust-ridden stripes.
All of us weary, chaff stuck to sweat
after a long day of haying
in heat dry as the cracked creek bed.
A Benadryl haze makes my limbs
feel like pudding, so wobbly I’m sillier
than usual as I wade to the edge,
still chortling as I trip, tip over,
fall to the barn’s dirt floor,
landing hard between wagon and post,
jeans somehow intact
against a pitchfork’s rusty tines.
I’m jolted into silence
until I find I’m fine,
me, the worrier
who never sees what’s coming.
My family leans over me, aghast
while I lie in the dust laughing
at all the good fortune we have sown.


Uneven Ground

He wants to fill in the pasture’s low spots.
I say no, no, no
these are magic spaces.
When winter comes they ice overnight
to crunch like candy under toddler boots.
Each spring, puddles leap into being,
just deep enough to wriggle with tadpoles.
Drying into mud, they entice butterflies
to drink salts in a crowded aerial whiffle.
Why even anything out?
These depressions of ours
hold so much.


Laura Grace Weldon is the author of the poetry collections Blackbird and Tending, as well as a handbook of alternative education titled Free Range Learning. She was named Ohio Poet of the Year for 2019. Her background includes teaching nonviolence workshops, writing collaborative poetry with nursing home residents, and facilitating support groups for abuse survivors. She works as a book editor, teaches community writing classes, and lives on a small farm. Connect with her at lauragraceweldon.com.