In Perpetuum

stars-1118077_960_720Overhead, a billion stars dotted the night like the light of God’s truth leaking through the strainer of a dark sky.  I paused before getting into my car, not wanting to open the door, not wanting a flood of artificial light to spoil this natural ambiance and diminish the feeling of vastness in the dim shapes around me.  Looking up.  The stars.  The black night holding them.  The familiar feeling reminding me of the way we were always together under this kind of sky.

At first, it was on a freezing January night.  Young, on a rooftop.  I had never walked out of a window before or seen the streets and houses nearby from such an angle.  That was his gift to me, then and now, of a surprising and unfamiliar perspective, so strange and thrilling and yet so comfortable.  He wrapped my shivering up in a blanket and tucked it in around my knees and feet, preferring himself to stay out in the fresh cold air.  I came to realize that his blood boils hotter than mine most of the time, which makes him far more able to endure the cold.  And, he needs space, the space of fresh air moving around him.

Later, our nights under the stars were shared long distance, cell phones pressed so long and hard to sweaty ears they felt sore.  Listening hard and deep to truths behind words too slurry for my liking.  Beautiful words vibrating through space and into me, teaching me how to find the star he was looking at.  If we could see the same star, at the same time, then the distance, the physical geographical distance between us would become obsolete.  Roman soldiers, he said, would do this.  They would choose a star with their wife before they went off to war and every night while they were apart, they both vowed to pause and gaze up at their star, knowing that their beloved was also doing the same, and in that moment they were together again in hearts and thoughts and souls.  Not separate, but One.

He always fantasized about, or maybe reminisced about, being a Roman soldier, asking me to braid his hair, leaving one of his freshly worn shirts on my pillow before he went away so I could sleep wrapped in the smell of him for at least a few nights, until it needed washing, until the familiar musk of his warm, hairy skin faded and gave way to my own scent.

Roman soldiers, he said, always gave their woman jewels.  Not just to decorate their beautiful bodies and to lie in contrast to the smooth soft skin of necks and fingers, but as protection.  If that man didn’t come home, those jewels could be sold to provide for the very real needs of her survival – to buy food, shelter, necessities.  A Roman soldier could die a brave death if he knew that the woman he cherished slept well and warm and safe, even if he were not there to tuck the blankets in around her knees and feet.  Even if she slept in a shirt that smelled much too clean.


~ Darci Hawxhurst

for the Poplar Grove Muse

Sandhill Cranes and God

My ears strain to hear
the singular trill of Sandhill cranes
high in February’s cloudless sky,
above wind rattling through dry beech leaves
and wind chimes jangling on porch.
Ah! There they are!
“Angels I have heard on high!”

Celestial beings,
barely discernible with naked eye,
a perfect v-formation,
calligraphied across the skies.
The delightful construction
so much higher than the dance
that flew over yesterday.
Those trilled and chortled,
just above the leafless trees,
outspread wings silver-edged
in late afternoon sun:
“Sweetly singing o’er the plains,”
and these Southern Indiana hills.

The Sandhill cranes
set me thinking this morning.
I grew up with warnings
to listen for,
pay heed to,
obey the voice of
I toed the straight and narrow line
for more years than I care to admit.
If the voice of a supreme being—
one worthy of worship and adoration—
had been presented to me
as the song of Sandhill cranes,
as that soul-lifting music from above,
I might still believe in God.

The voice of the judging, jealous,
megalomaniac God,
that supposedly loved me,
got old,
lost its tyrannical hold,
when I learned to love myself.
Apparently, this love affair with oneself
needs to happen,
for a person to leave
an abusive relationship.

And who wrote the Bible?
No, not God, with his brilliant big toe.
Men in a decidedly patriarchal,
tribal society,
where women were chattel—
sisters of cattle, sheep, oxen—
and a handy means to provide
sons to continue the bloodline,
and daughters for more chattel.

In all fairness,
how could God have been written
any other way,
when the typical man of the day
was made of the same inflexible fiber?
How could they imagine
a supreme being
other than male?
demanding, invincible!
Obey! Bow!
Kiss my feet
or burn in hell!

They started off pretty fine
with the “all-loving” line—
maybe their hearts
were in the right place…
for a moment—
then they got carried away.
“All-loving” got trampled
under the gargantuan feet of:
All powerful!
All seeing!

They cast God
in the image of man,
or, what man aspired to be.
Too big for his britches,
if you ask me.

Yes, things might’ve been different
if God had been cast
as a Sandhill crane,
or as hundreds of thousands
of Sandhill cranes!
Tall, elegant, silver-gray birds,
with crimson-capped heads
and bustle-like rumps;
long, black legs that dance
exuberant mating invitations
with gangly grace.
I would definitely offer
my body and soul
to such enthusiastic,
would-be lovers!

And their bugling calls!
Their songs!
Their whimsical trilling
above the clouds!
A Bible verse I learned as a child
spirals through my heart and mind:
“Be still, and know that I am God.”
And I do—
I stand perfectly still.
I lift my face toward the heavens,
toward the flock of Sandhill cranes,
and sing my silent, sacred prayer:

Glenda Breeden for The Poplar Grove Muse
(February-March 2016)


White Moths


Mother Earth News
Mother Earth News

After the first revolution

the poet’s were busier than

cabbage moths in the garden

 The Poet’s Garden   Maxine Kumin




When the white moths eat away at my words I feel I’ve betrayed myself. I have let the inner critic chew up and spit out my truth. As if it didn’t matter, as if what I had to say wasn’t important.

They are insidious, these moths, they seem to be saying, who do you think you are? I will gnaw away at your until you are so vanilla, so bland you will be almost invisible. You will not take up space, except as a reflection of others, which is your only true worth.

The moth says, I will eat up and chew up and shit out those sentences that start with I. Those “Is” are sweet to me. Tasty. A feast for the destruction of the You that is You.

Rebekah Riebsomer Spivey for the Poplar Grove Muse


267 (5)blog2Standing alone
near the evergreens
who nod and sway
knowing one another—
some from seeds dropped from their
own branches, in another year.
Their own children, but no tree knows its own,
only that it continues the forest.
Some grew from seeds dropped
by birds, bringing them in
from other forests, enriching this one.
Birds who made their homes here and
whose songs and chirping young
harmonized with the moan of needles
moved by the wind.
That forest sang in harmony.
On the edge, the oaks and elms
not quite a part of the forest,
they who change throughout the seasons…
fickle in their outer beings
while their sister pines and firs remain steadfast.
Which ones are the mothers and grandmothers?
Does the sprouting of their seeds show?
How can they tell?
Are they more special?
And the lone birch, no other of its kin, on the edge,
no song to sing of its young…
is it part of the forest?
Who hears its song?
Does it sing with the others
or does its own song
hurt the harmony of group?
Do their roots enmesh,
these trees of the forest?
Entwine, not noticing who is who?
The deep and the shallow, woven,
forming a strong place for them all?
Different above, beauty of differences…
so knit together below that they are one…
the grandmother and the mother and the not-mother.

Bev Hartford, for The Poplar Grove Muse