Saturday, May 1, 2021







“Write to your father, your sister or mother,

or someone or other, but write right away.”


So said the stenciled words, slinking across the

tin surface of the pencil holder, a twelfth-birthday

present, repository of wisdom


I couldn’t use and tried to donate to Goodwill, then

stashed under sweaters in a drawer, then abandoned

when I left for college.


The metal persisted,


ingratiating itself into my parent’s kitchen, where it held

with lists of wedding guests just waiting for my tardy

“write-right-away” thank yous;


later into their den, where it housed a notepad covered with

hieroglyphic bridge scores to be erased and then carefully

written over again;


finally, on the stand by my father’s sick bed, where it kept

plastic pill bottles, yellow, stark, round, and outlived

papery skin, fragile bone.




Outside my kitchen window,

on this gray August morning,

an ambitious, single-minded spider

releases a walking thread into the air,

aware, or not, that she relies on gravity,

space, and wind.


From the other side of the glass,

my finger traces the silvery thread

she pulls into a Y, the delicate borders

she spins around it, the sticky spirals

that grow from the heart of the web to its

nearly-invisible edges.


The intricate lace she embroiders,

though fragile to my human touch,

is stronger than steel and nylon,

elastic enough to trap and hold a bee.

All in a day’s work for her, powerful,

slender, and stunning.




In a meadow at the foot of the soaring Tetons,

where moose often roam, a helmeted guy races

a thick-wheeled bicycle


along a skinny dirt path, his thirsty, panting dog

trailing after him, both oblivious to romance that’s

in the air.


For instance, an amorous male grasshopper flaps

his wings, desperate for an equally eager female.

Any female.


Aspens rustle, swaying in the early morning breeze,

and snicker softly among themselves at the noisy,

frantic insect,


sheltered as they are from so much longing by ancient

communal roots that fend off predators, elk, sap suckers.

Fire and ice.


And the vicissitudes of love.




TERRI PAUL’s award-winning novel GLASS HEARTS is a fictional retelling of how her mother’s family came to America after the Great War. She has published numerous short stories and has received several grants and awards for her fiction. Her poem “Stills” placed fourth in the 2017 Annual WRITERS’ DIGEST Writing Competition in the category of non-rhyming poetry. Another poem, “The Other Side of the Wall,” appears in the 2020 issue of POETICA.

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