after the scare, a scar forms. the scar reminds you of the scare. a new scare? another scar. fast forward for the score: if the scare is mere, you survive. the final scare's the one you won't remember.
Elegy: South Island, New Zealand
Impossible to know beforehand when a chord will be struck—I mean the minor chord, sticking its notes in my throat so it's hard to swallow. Today I did not hear it coming from the page I read, so grief roared suddenly out of an old loss and I could see the face of that beautiful young mountaineer, Etienne. Our expat lives were mostly separate, but we smiled lovingly at one another when we met among the waist-high blooms of lupine, many-colored stalks of fragrance that grew below The Hermitage where I worked as a maid and he as an alpine guide. The tavern bar was there, host to a jubilant smoky throng when the workday ended. Most nights both of us and all the other younglings flung darts into boards of pig-bristle over beer or bourbon. At evening's end, we stumbled forth, sometimes solo, sometimes paired for careless sex in cramped quarters. He knew how high he stood in my regard—both for his gear-free climbs up major peaks and for his gentle love of that environment. Then came the day he got to stay in paradise and I had to leave the village and fly home. I never heard about his death until some years after he had gone, another of the lads the Southern Alps had lured and held forever in their chilly thrall: Etienne, bright-faced youth, flung by an avalanche down from the mountain they called Sefton then. But now (at last) the Maori names are back, which means his final home is Maukatua, mountain of the gods, right where he belongs.
was born in Illinois, but has lived on both coasts of the U.S. and on other continents at various times in her life. Her book-length collection is The First Home Air After Absence
(Big Table Publishing
, 2017). Her poems appear or are forthcoming in print and online journals in the U.S. and the U.K., from Ambit
to Willawaw Journal
with stops at Chestnut Review, Gargoyle, Pine Hills Review, Poets Reading the News, The Ekphrastic Review, The Lake
and Whale Road
, among others. She lives within sight of the San Francisco Bay.