September: Collecting the Plums
Then it was time to shake the tree,
purple plums falling to the blue
tarp spread beneath wide branches.
We filled bucket after bucket.
That night, across town at Marcia’s,
while we ate and drank on the dark deck,
something cried at the edge of the woods
and a strange light crossed the sky.
Plum season stretches deep beyond trees
when the heart, too, drops what it cannot hold.
Convergence: Morning in an October Field, Lynden
The trail ends and we enter
a field wet with dew.
Four Belgian horses
lift their heads,
then trudge towards us,
shaking invisible blankets
of stars, harnesses of fog.
They pick through ghost stumps.
Once, these forty acres were woods
and we all lived different lives.
Now, with constellations tilted,
we meet to touch again and part.
Green Lake Neighborhood: October
Between street and sidewalk,
running down the block,
this sudden, unexpected garden:
a crowd of cosmos and tall elders,
leaning, and at their feet,
small pumpkins tied to green vines.
These young ones will not roll
away into traffic; but they might―
just might–get picked up, carried
off, and given new identities
before they’ve learned
their name and home address.
Sheila Nickerson, a resident of Bellingham, Washington, is a former Poet Laureate of Alaska. Her poems have been widely published in magazines, chapbooks, and anthologies and have won two Pushcart Prizes. Her most recent poetry title is a chapbook, Along The Alaska Highway. Her nonfiction titles include Disappearance: A Map and Midnight to the North: The Untold Story of the Inuit Woman Who Saved the Polaris Expedition.
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