Ann Howells edited Illya’s Honey for eighteen years. Her most recent books are: So Long As We Speak Their Names (Kelsay Books, 2019), and Painting the Pinwheel Sky (Assure Press, 2020). Chapbooks include: Black Crow in Flight, as Editor’s Choice in Main Street Rag’s 2007 competition and Softly Beating Wings, 2017 William D. Barney Chapbook Competition winner (Blackbead Books). Her work appears in many small press and university publications including Plainsongs, I-70 Review, and San Pedro River Review.
outside my childhood home,
stood taller than the house itself.
It leaves made jazz hands,
imprinted stars on wet walkways,
whispered secrets in the night.
It shed brittle scrolls like those at Qumran:
held beliefs esoteric and mystical
if only I could have read them.
Dimpled seed balls dropped plonk plonk
on the roof, rolled, clattered into gutters ~
a sacred timpani, 14 th Street percussion.
This year for the first time, I see them,
a small flotilla in full sail,
slender necks curved, graceful as figureheads.
Neptune’s wooden angels. Swans
riding low in the water,
elegant, gliding the shoreline
where water opens beyond the scrim of hoarfrost.
Silent as moonlight they pass, three of them.
I’ve heard they mate for life
and wonder if the third is bereaved, lonely widow
or widower tolerated by an amicable pair.
They don’t vocalize,
simply slip past in slow motion,
pausing to pluck a small crab, water bug, or tender reed,
continue their foray till dusk,
when they rise as one in grand jete,
a beautifully choreographed lifting propelled by sweep
of powerful wings pink tinted by setting sun.