Issue No. 13, Summer 2015

The Many Places We Leave Behind
Jeri Edwards

I have to say something about that small
improbable green of spring grass in the ebb of afternoon,
the tart smell of earth from morning’s rain,
crinkled foil light glinting off rippled lake,
a home to darker worlds deep in hemlock limbs.

How I go there to see a glossy backed crow,
the one I call Old Broken Feather
with a saw-toothed wing that drags down on the right,
makes him walk even more cockeyed.

He inhabits this place like a room,
prone to poise on the upslope, head lifted, bill opened
as if he recognizes his good fortune to take flight,
somehow make use of the useless.
He looks at me with a sizable glance
as if to acknowledge he knows
whatever is let go a taker moves right in.

I should mention this place calls me from the inside,
runted stones of paths,
seethe of heat in immutable sun,
choir of clouds in winter gales.

I am not ashamed to say I talk to Old Broken Feather
when I see him, remind him old is not age related,
rather an endearment.
After all, I tell him while
he tattoos the ground for bugs,
my mother used to call me old.
“Old Faithful,” she’d say into the phone on my weekly calls
when she still knew who I was.

I need to tell you Old Broken Feather doesn’t respond,
just hops about in the tall uncut near a tangle of reeds,
part of the many places we leave behind.
Like, where I was at the time of my mother’s death:
she, alone in a small room
somewhere in Maryland,
I, on the wooden walkway
in front of Old Faithful (can you believe it?)
its hot plume bursting 200 feet into the icy air,
its beauty a terrible thing.

Jeri Edwards is a writer and a pastel/mixed media illustrator who grew up in Virginia with a couple of acres of woods as her backyard. She now divides her time between the Santa Monica Mountains in Southern California and Northern Arizona and wherever she can be surrounded by nature. She has been published in literary journals such as Quiddity, Yalobusha Review, Portland Review, Worcester Review, Lumina, Westwind.