Ralph Skip Stevens
Bio Note: Personal experience is, of course, a source for a poem; sometimes, however, it gets in the way. The first poem here was prompted by a very personal tragedy, but I couldn’t get away from the too-familiar, the cliches that tragedy can descend to. It took years and many drafts before I had something I was willing to publish (I should credit Moon Pie Press, which published it as the title poem in my collection At Bunker Cove). The second poem is pure fiction, unless, like me, you believe that trees are sentient beings.
At Bunker Cove
You know there’s something out there, waiting in the fog that blanks East Bunker Ledge, or perhaps it flew yesterday with those crows in their angry laps around your house— something you tend to forget until the phone rings at midnight. But consider—there are these two gulls that float side by side just off the beach, each feather tucked away. They rise and fall in the swell not moving, looking as if they never fought for scraps of garbage. They do not brood over eggs that never hatch. Isn’t such rest, such safety, possible? And look, today the ocean is no more than ripples sliding over the old stones.
The trees are not sleeping well tonight. Perhaps it was the dark purple of sunset, the rising of a blood moon. I sensed a trembling in the heartwood and went through the house looking for something to sing to them, but couldn’t find the music. The crickets are silent now. Only an owl has any voice and he doesn’t reassure the branches where he keeps watch. I leave the house to sit with them, the restless trees, to think out the night and share their uneasiness, until the dark has lifted.
©2021 Ralph Skip Stevens
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