It Happened on a Monday
I was fiddling by the pond when a mosquito hawk (aka dragon fly) appeared on my shirt. Her long body was mostly neon blue and her wingsspangling gossamer. She stayed on my sleeve (white, her favourite) while I slipped into my kayak. I was amused and delighted, but I wondered what the neighbours might think. They smiled, admiring my gaudy bauble. ‘It’s not my mosquito hawk,’ I called out. ‘I’m just taking her for a spin around the pond.’ ‘When will it be my turn?’ asked Sally. (She’s 7 with pig tails.) ‘Soon,’ I said. ‘Be patient,’ I advised. I feathered on with the mosquito hawk,her claws grabbing the weave of my shirt. She tilted her bulbous eyes towards me, and we wondered what we might have for dinner.
With nod, wink, and gratitude to James Tate.
Donna-Lee Smith spends halcyon summer days in her kayak exploring pond life in the Laurentian hills north of Montreal. She has long admired the dragon fly for its prodigious eating habits (consumes hundreds of mosquitos, on a good day) and for its flying abilities (zooms up to 30 miles perhour).
Why I’m Sitting in a French Jail Cell
Of course, Giverny was at the top of my list on my first
trip to France. Since childhood, Monet has been my
favourite artist. But lately I’ve longed to go back, test my
It all started when museum curators began x-raying
Monet paintings to see what was lurking in those first
layers of paint. He despised showing a canvas before it
was finished, and unfortunately felt many paintings were
never complete. Only he knew what hid below the
water’s surface. One painting of wisteria disclosed a
water lily underneath. Frugal, but was there more to
I began wondering what was under the real pond, even
dreamed about it– crazy, crazy dreams. Surely Atlantis
wasn’t there! But could there be sealed vaults, hidden
bodies, or something only Monet would think of to
enhance the reflection of sky and light? I became
obsessed with being the first tourist, maybe first
American, to know
what was at the bottom of the pond. (Of course, I
couldn’t tell my husband my plan.)
Every autumn trip to France has an overcast or drizzly
day, so I insisted we go to Giverny then, when we could
have more of the garden to ourselves. I faked a trip to les
toilettes, while my husband was looking through
postcards. Rushed back to the pond, didn’t think anyone
was watching. I bent over first, taking a photo of a lily,
then pretended to trip and fall in.
I guess it would have been more convincing if I had
splashed about and yelled, but I told the police I was too
embarrassed to cry for help. It wasn’t that deep, and I
knew I couldn’t drown (well, thought I wouldn’t. Who
knows if I’d get caught in roots or hoses or whatever
they’ve installed to keep the pond looking so clean).
Unfortunately, a drizzly day didn’t give me much light to
see underwater. Plus some kid had to announce, “Mom,
there’s an old lady in the water. Can I jump in, too?”
Now I’m shivering even in a blanket, sitting on a jail cot.
I’m not officially under arrest, but they’re bringing in a
doctor to check my condition. My husband will probably
back up my story that I really am visually impaired and
clumsy enough to fall in. At least I hope he buys my
Alarie Tennille was a pioneer coed at the University of Virginia, where she earned her degree in English, Phi Beta Kappa key, and black belt in Feminism. Alarie received the first editor’s choice Fantastic Ekphrastic Award from The Ekphrastic Review, and in 2022, her latest book, Three A.M. at the Museum, was named Director’s Pick for the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art gift shop.[alariepoet.com ]
The Water Lily Pond
Light, natural light across his painting.
An aliveness, once in a century.
Pink Japanese lilies long dead.
It's different in France, it's true,
my friend France Marie nods.
She says twue, stabbing
her cigarette in my face. My eyes burn.
Everything is better there−
the light, the colours.
Surely, she exaggerates.
I mentally roll my eyes.
France Marie was right about France!
Monet was right about the colours.
Blues and greens match trees and lilies.
That balletic Japanese bridge.
I'm afraid that I've become a bit obsessed,
Lilies ordered. As much time
gardening and caring for them
It feels possible to walk into that painting.
Something slows the breath,
soothes the eye. Soft wind,
bobbing lily pads. Grasses hissing.
Shadows swaying in
a slow waltz.
Did it settle Monet's eyes?
Cataracts were beginning.
There is a hazy glow to his paintings.
Images of the same scene a few years later
blues gone muddy, reds replace pastels.
Lynne Kemen lives in Upstate New York. Her chapbook, More Than a Handful, was published in 2020. Her poems have been published or are forthcoming in La Presa, Silver Birch Press, The Ravens Perch, Fresh Words Magazine, Topical Poetry, The Ekphrastic Review, and Blue Mountain Review. She is an editor for The Blue Mountain Review and The Southern Collective Experience in Atlanta, Georgia. SCE will publish Shoes for Lucy in the fall. She is the Interim President of Bright Hill Press in Treadwell, New York.
I linger at the blue-green rail
wondering whether to wander
into the weep of willows
or remain, as the artist did,
Buoyant as the green pads
then pulled down
to the muddy roots.
I want to stand mid-way.
To pause between life’s
free of the world
the who’s and where’s
I want to bask in the rainbow
of greens at the pond’s edge,
to reimagine Monet’s
cottage garden wild
Sandi Stromberg has been nominated three times for a Pushcart Prize and twice for Best of the Net. Her full-length poetry collection Frogs Don't Sing Red was released by Kelsay Books in April 2023. Widely published in small literary journals and anthologies, she recently joined the editorial staff of The Ekphrastic Review. Her poetry has also been translated into Dutch and published in Brabant Cultureel in the Netherlands.
The Water Lily Pond
Minnows. Mussels. Snails.
Water striders. Dragonflies.
Feast fit for a frog.
Teri M. Brown
Born in Athens, Greece as an Air Force brat, Teri M. Brown now calls the North Carolina coast home. In 2020, she and her husband, Bruce, rode a tandem bicycle across the United States from Astoria, Oregon to Washington DC, successfully raising money for Toys for Tots. Teri’s debut novel, Sunflowers Beneath the Snow, is a historical fiction set in Ukraine, and her second novel, An Enemy Like Me, is set in WWII. Learn more at www.terimbrown.com.
en plein air
I am on my back in the water, arms spread wide, my hair floating around me like a halo. Lily pads cover my breasts and pubis areas. Frogs and turtles climb up the palms of my hands and on to my arms to sun themselves.
I feel the sun on my face and I close my eyes.
Rushes and cattails act as a barrier between me and the shore; muskrats weave in and out looking to steal loon eggs. An otter chatters nearby.
The loons cry, wailing at the muskrats, chasing them until the muskrats disappear among the grasses to their underwater homes.
The trees rustle in the wind, the voices of the gods are calling to me.
My eyes remain closed but I can feel myself slowly float around the pond. The sun is no longer on my face and it is too early for night so I guess, correctly, I am under the Japanese bridge.
I hear lovers laugh as they walk across the Japanese bridge, oohing at the frogs and turtles, and throwing rocks into the river to watch the water ripple. She comments they can see the bottom and laughs when she sees a school of fish dart by. She dares him to jump in. He scoffs and she continues to taunt him. I hear the sound of shoes hitting the bridge and then she calls it off, saying she was only joking. His voice sounds relieved as he puts his shoes back on.
They cannot see me. I continue to listen.
I hear the creak of the wood as they continue on, their voices getting more distant until finally I cannot hear anything but the croak of the frogs, the wailing from the loons, and the sound of water lapping at my ears.
I think about where I have been and where I want to go. Do I enjoy myself at the pond? The water is clear, the flora and fauna protect and entertain me. The Japanese bridge is sturdy across the pond, painted blue and greens to blend in with the wetlands.
I wiggle my toes.
I feel the lily pads drift across my body, moving from their secret places and exposing me to the elements.
I float from under the bridge to the centre of the pond.
The sun no longer warms my face.
My eyes open and squint up to the sky, looking for the sun but the sun is going down now. In the places between the trees, I can see the reds and oranges as the sun dips away from me.
As the sun descends behind the trees, I can hear the wildlife in the woods starting to stir. Soon, does and stags will come to the pond to drink their nightly fill. The muskrats, convinced the loons are gone, will come out of their darkened underwater homes, noses twitching as they swim to the cattails to eat. One eyes a water lily near my head and starts to hesitantly swim towards me but stops, gives a stony glare, and goes back the other way.
The moon has risen and moonlight penetrates the waterbody and the world beneath the water comes alive.
I can feel a school of fish as they pass the underside of my body. The frogs and turtles have left me, and are camped out on the logs that dot the wetlands. I hear geese honk as they fly south.
Soon it will be winter but I am not cold and the water remains warm.
I do not know how long I’ve been in the pond. Years maybe? I have no concept of how time passes, I just watch the sun and the moon rise and fall. The seasons come and go but the sun always warms me and the flora and fauna delight me.
I am alive.
Scarlet MacKenzie (she/they) is many things and mainly keeps herself together with the internet, dark chocolate, and coffee. Based in Northern Michigan, Scarlet is fond of the gods in the trees and the water that surrounds her. Her favourite Darcy is Matthew Macfadyen. She is @msscarletwrites and https://msscarletwrites.online.
impulsive thoughts on the lily pond bridge
i hear the crash that disturbs the peace.
feel my toes squish into the soft. see the
whimsy of the lily blossoms while I stand there,
those joyful blooms, a pink oasis in the green.
they open like my heart.
after the water settles, i see small
ripples from the movement of me,
my breathing & beating blood;
& from insects skating on the surface,
a turtle swimming to a sunning spot,
a frog calling for a mate.
i hear the buzzing chirping singing of the critters,
cicadas from the treeline,
the shushing of willow leaves,
& the sighing of the breeze,
my body is baptized by the muddied water of
my landing & the smell of wet decay.
when the peace returns i’ll be part of it,
a participant of the present,
Cara Morgan (they/them) is a disabled, queer, neurodivergent poet and artist from rural Maine. They host a music and poetry podcast on Spotify called the sunshine lounge and virtual poetry workshops for traditionally marginalized voices to make art. They are passionate about their cats, cool rocks, making playlists, funky earrings, and supporting other creatives. Their debut chapbook collection, Dear Diseased Body, is available now through Bottlecap Press.
Breaks in the Lilies
Because I couldn’t paint or write about it
I fished the scattered breaks in the lilies.
The pine planks rattled as children ran back & forth
to and from two moms, two dads, an old man
smoking at a picnic table; pappy
a little girl with ginger pigtails called
him, his grin like a minute crack in a glass
of whiskey, thin & crooked, uncertain
how long it might spread or break and free it-
self, the crows and bullfrogs carrying on
too far and quick for the children to catch
the fish, too, for an old man with a worm.
Robert E. Ray
Robert E. Ray is a retired public servant. His poetry has been published by Rattle, Beyond Words Literary Magazine, Wild Roof Journal, The Ekphrastic Review and in four poetry anthologies. Robert lives in coastal Georgia.
feelings of azure, sapphire, avocado, jade,
and callow mixing in water filling the canvas
the brushed leaves of willows, ferns, petals
cerulean, flushed, and cherry
squint and the colors wash together
under the bridge that moves
from its two-dimensional space
into a three-dimensional contemplation
hanging over Monet’s Pond for surely
it is his now after so many have seen
it the way he did—the arc of the bridge,
the glint of light from the sun, the mirror of water
between rafts of lilies under the silenced
wind, a slight rain, and the soft peeping of birds
Anne Graue (she/her) is the author of Full and Plum-Colored Velvet, (Woodley Press) and Fig Tree in Winter (Dancing Girl Press). Her work appears in Gargoyle, Verse Daily, Feral: A Journal of Poetry and Art, SWWIM Every Day, EcoTheo Review, and in The Book of Donuts (Terrapin Books) and Coffee Poems (World Enough Writers). She is a poetry editor for The Westchester Review and for The Nimrod International Journal of Prose and Poetry.
One of These Days
We’ll walk andante this cerulean afternoon
pick a spot with panoramic view
amid the jazz of birdsong
the gentling hum of summer.
I may stand a while bare-shouldered
on the bridge of sighs
wait for you to reach my side.
The minutes will melt like honey
the hours will roll, as the bliss
of earned rest after labours well done.
We’ll bring food and wine
we’ll bring our good muscles,
our time flowing unscripted
like stepping-stones across the lilied waters,
and we’ll stay until the blueness of dusk
is a falling tenderness all about us.
Nina Nazir (she/her) is a British Pakistani artist, poet and general creative bod based in Birmingham, UK. She's had work published in various journals, including Ink Sweat & Tears, Free Verse Revolution, Messy Misfits Club, Unlost Journal, Harana Poetry and Visual Verse among others. When she's not teaching, she's making art or poems. Other than that, she is never not reading. You can find her on Instagram: @nina.s.nazir and Twitter: @NusraNazir
A Bilingual Tanka in Irish and English
ina nduilleoga báite
tá cigirí ón mbardas
sa tóir ar an té a chum
like water lilies
poems are scattered here and there
are looking for the culprit
Gabriel Rosenstock is a bilingual poet, tankaist, haikuist, translator and novelist. Many of his books, for adults and children, are free: gabriel rosenstock | edocr Gabriel Rosenstock - Free Kids Books
Moments of silence
On gently arched bridge
Noonday sun kisses pond;
Egrets who fed early morning gone
Till dusk when insects bring fish to
Water’s surface, cicadas buzz their call
All creatures lift heads in unison wonder,
Turn heads toward this still water
Ever calm, lilies blush pink against dark
Reflection, green pads and fronds, Willow
Leaves brush the ground, teasingly close
I stand perfectly still, taking in the painting
Languishing in a moment, frozen in time
Years fade away, it’s just the now
Poignant, poetic scene written about
Over this empty bridge, these lilies
Never seem to change, the portrait
Does not diminish this quietude
Julie A. Dickson
Julie A. Dickson loves writing, and when given a prompt, all the better. Her poetry appears in over 65 journals, including Misfit, Masticadores, Open Door and The Ekphrastic Review. Dickson holds a BPS in Behavioral Science, has served on two poetry boards, as a guest editor on several publications and has full length works available on Amazon. Julie advocates for captive elephants and feral cats.
The Lilies and the Pond
The magnificence of the wild world overwhelms and inspires me.
The water lilies seem to bathe as an exotic in love.
They create a seductive dance in silent beauty.
I am overcome and get lost in the mystery of it all.
The dance of the foliage and the water.
My brush paints without my help.
My canvas is my soul and paints by command.
These little dots are my heart and I live only to paint.
To create is to live.
I am amazed that my hand moves without my command.
Green is the color of life,of earth, of birth.
It transcends the agony of the every day.
It justifies my life -
it is why I was born.
To give birth to a forest of trees and foliage that will live forever.
And constantly renew itself.
Born again each year.
Sandy Rochelle is an award winning poet, actress and filmmaker. She is the recipient of the President's Award for Literature. And appeared on Broadway with the Acting Company of Lincoln Center. Sandy is a Voting Member of the Recording Academy in the Spoken Word Category.
What I Would Like to Ask Monet
We arrived at Giverny, in early April, just after a cleansing rain but long before the pond’s lilies would awaken. The bridge, unlike this most famous of his renditions, was bereft of vines. The brown, brackish pond water was simply a holding place for green lily pads that floated like lonely ships, waiting for their buds, floral cargo to awaken. I should have realized there would be no expanse of lilies, summer flowers, in early spring, yet, Monet had not prepared me for this view. He painted the pond and footbridge eighteen times, several versions even when the lilies slept, in autumn. Yet not this view. And I wondered why.
My visit was almost a hundred years too late to ask him, so instead I turned to the hens in the side yard to ask my question. I guessed these were descendants of the original clutch of egg layers and so perhaps, since he loved their eggs for breakfast, their ancestors might have overheard his reasons and passed on their knowledge.
Clucking at me angrily, these tawny reds declined to answer. Did they not know the answer? Or did they disdain the question, still annoyed with Monet for relegating them to a side yard, for not painting them, although his breakfast table profited daily from their fresh eggs.
I sauntered back to the bridge and back to the viewing spot where Monet set up his canvas. Breathing in deeply, I imagined the scents of the wonderful flowers that were not yet in bloom, Glad for the painting, I mentally imagined it as it was when he painted that scene as I know it best. I had no answers, but then again, answers are not everything. It is in wondering, admiring and in questioning that our spirit grows.
Joan Leotta plays with words on page and stage. She performs and writes tales featuring food, family, and strong women. Internationally published, she’s a 2021, 2022 Pushcart nominee, Best of the Net Nominee, and 2022 runner-up, Robert Frost Competition. Recent publications include MacQueen’s Quinterly, Last Leaves, Verse Virtual, and Gargoyle. Her new chapbook, Feathers on Stone is published by Main Street Rag.
Crossing the Beautiful Arch
What I see when I view the bridge:
I see the woman’s face, she who fought the painful
Battle against cancer, and is fighting still
Her face melding with others’
My child is Purity. She enters the room
And renders her grace, her innocence so
Sweet it stabs my heart. Resplendent visage--
Looking again, I see no-longer-agile Grandpapa
Peering into his future, wanting to know how his eight
Grandchildren are faring, inquiring of them
If he’s yet alive
Again, I consider the arch; there I spy my own
Grandmother, walking slowly across, slightly bent,
Clutching the railing, and smiling
Assured, she’ll see loved ones anon; she’d known
Her stay in Hopehill Residence was duly
Temporary, its length of days designed by God,
My grandmother settles in; she has work
To do. What does the singing have to do
With lilies in a pond? How does beauty relieve?
Carole Mertz writes in Parma, Ohio. She is Poetry Editor of Ocotillo Review. www.carolemertz.com
I Met You on a Journey
You took my hand on the bridge,
fed me morsels of poetry,
made me hungry for more--
words filled my empty spaces.
Unsure of intentions,
searching for inspiration,
you nourished my hopes,
suggested passages to new places.
You read aloud luscious lines,
phrases sang and flowed together
prompting us to bake fruited muffins
filled with sweetness by design.
Your art was whimsical--
tempting me to mimic the style
of patterns, colours, and circles
like a vibrant parade marching by.
You shared nuggets of your craft,
I need only follow your map.
Insecurities at bay, I continue onward
knowing I, too, have something to say.
Lois Perch Villemaire
Lois Perch Villemaire writes poetry, flash memoir and fiction. Her work has appeared in such places as Blue Mountain Review, The Ekphrastic Review, One Art: A Journal of Poetry, Pen In Hand and Topical Poetry. Anthologies, including I Am My Father’s Daughter and Truth Serum Press - Lifespan Series have published her memoir and poetry. Originally from the Philadelphia area, Lois lives in Annapolis, MD, where she enjoys yoga, researching family connections, fun photography, and doting over her African violets.
She was supposed to be like everyone else, crossing the bridge at the exact right time, cheerleader hair semi-neatly swept upwards, thick thighs covered in Lululemon. An artist, creator of winsome disarray, time skewed, sometimes too early, and often embarrassed about being late. A huge canvas to muddle through, that lively, feckless brain, shooting messages in multiple directions, all leading away from the bridge and toward heedless abandon, although her intentions were good. Always good, be a good girl, wash your hair, just put it up, you’re young, your face will carry until, finally, that million-dollar smile quit working its charm, the oven was too hot, she baked too close to the heat, the kiln failed the clay and today, the most significant day so far, her friends line the bridge like so many similar frosted cakes, perfectly cool, just waiting to be eaten, waiting to take a bite as well, ravenously hungry like her, but unlike her, they will all ascend the bridge, together. No one says her name.
Spotless line of girls
Caps and gowns sunlight-shimmer
Cross over to new life
Debbie Walker-Lass is a poet, collage artist, and writer living in Decatur, Georgia. Her work has appeared in several journals and magazines, including The Ekphrastic Review, Poetry Quarterly, Haikuniverse, The Light Ekphrastic and Natural Awakenings, Atlanta, among others. She has recently read live for The Poet’s Corner. When not creating, she can be found beachcombing on Tybee Island or hanging out with her husband, Burt, and dog, Maddie. Kind greetings to all ekphrastic poets!
In the Round
I stood on this bridge daily
not knowing whether the lilies
were themselves or a reflection
all their colours blend, mingling
with reeds, water and sky, green
dominating, flecked with pink
my impressions and painterly skill
combined to inspire my gift
to a nation weary of war
of my sanctuary's lasting peace
to line Parisian gallery walls
and celebrate an armistice
that could not hold, but my work
"a wave with no horizon, no shore"
would survive future conflicts
I thought to preserve my vision
not knowing the garden itself
would be maintained as it was
and many more admirers pass across
the arched bridge, making images
in seconds, that took me years
Adrienne Stevenson lives in Ottawa, Canada. A retired forensic scientist, she writes poetry and prose. Her work has appeared in over sixty print and online journals and anthologies in Canada, USA, UK, Europe, India, and Australia. Adrienne is an avid gardener, voracious reader, and sometime folk musician.
Surprises within the ordinary day.
We wait each morning at the bridge, just to the left ‑ the side where the willow fronds slide across my skin in the early morning light, just barely a tickle, but a wakening call to the morning. Each day starts this way. Coffee in hand and the crumb of croissant an ant’s delight when it fumbles and bounces its way down to the lily pads, their pinkish petals tinged with a shading of pale grey, like an artist had shyly blended his oily palette. A silence above the frogs’ landing ports, below the murkiness hiding the busyness of fish of golden and yellow and orange, hiding and darting amongst the tangle and twists of stalks and decaying, yellowing leaves. When the sun rises just enough to show white the stretched arms of the bridge we walk slowly around the edge of the pond. We don’t speak, we step neatly in unison, our laced shoes matching, our steps and strides a metrical pattern. We like the routine, we like the silence, we like the day revealing the leftovers of the night’s rhythm and thrumming hum. Its secrets sometimes revealed as we watch. A quieter hush occasionally falls as we pass into shadows, the coolness of the draped willows hide our private journey and discoveries, the secret surprises. Those things we didn’t expect or rely upon, but welcome as an arc of change amidst our routine. Perhaps the delights of a new routine would be revealed beside the lily pads and golden fishes. Dankness sometimes sullies the edges of our pink suede shoes, tainting them like the day is not as pure as our shoes expected. Mud squeezes up over the edge, like icing squeezing from between the sweet pastries that we see in dainty shops way beyond the bridge. We sometimes find coins or tossed cigarettes or the trickle within an amber glass bottle. One day we found a blue bottle and the sunlight spun a thousand stories around the bevelled edge of the rim. Today we found the tips of fingers laced around the lily pad, the ones with pinkish petals, blended with grey. The fingers were blue grey much like the lily’s petals, but a cold blue with delicate veins showing through the waxy skin. The nails spoke a contrast with their proud bold scarlet, a jagged statement amongst the greens and grey, and pinkish white. One finger swollen and bloated boasted a sapphire ring gleaming just below the surface of the murky pond, it was tucked slightly beneath a lily pad, barely visible except for the bright blue glint as the goldfishes brushed past, their contrast pretty and pleasant. A welcome highlight in our daily routine, hiding secretly maybe awaiting our glow of appreciation, that bloated hand hidden in the shadows of the day, not quite bold enough to claw into the sunlight beyond the shade of the graceful willow tree. Perhaps that will happen tomorrow when we come by with our coffee and croissants and our cleaned pink suede shoes.
Julie Rysdale: "For a lifetime, I taught English to secondary school students. I recently reflected that the students had also been teaching me about writing, so I am having another crack at it. I especially enjoy playing with words to paint a poetic picture."
Studies of The Water Lilies
One water lily is not a garden, but a beginning.
Yet one can be two:
the act, and the reflection of the act.
Nor is the lily the pond, though its world is water
and its life is the pond, liminals of small water,
shore a rim reflected in sky
as sky is reflected in water.
To study the water lily is to study life itself--
its depths unseen, wavering, yet anchoring
all that is above, connect earth to sky
through the translucences of light.
Two, three, and more, hovering
letting sun become roots, roots become pads
drifting, yet never leaving their boundaries
making of a corner of darkness, opalescent light.
Shimmering surfaces touch the edges of each lily
until each a mirror of the other, yet each alone
a palm gently holding effusive petals, mesmery.
Shore fronds may overreach, green small bridges
mimicking a bridge above, yet they will never be free
from the shore, will envy the lily its lithe existence.
The lilies float, catch a fair Dragon Fly
that barely makes the lily pad shiver.
in the eye of this gentle visitor
mimics too the coolness:
viridescent trees nodding above all.
One could study the water lilies a lifetime
patterns without repetitions
echoes without ceasing.
Le Bassin aux Nymphe'as
each a foreshadowing of the next.
Carol Lee Saffioti-Hughes
Carol Lee Saffioti-Hughes is a professor Emerita of the University of Wisconsin System and a former librarian in a log cabin library in the north woods of Wisconsin, USA. A nominee for the Pushcart Prize for her poem, "Plein Air," her work has appeared in journals including The San Antonio Review, Dos Gatos Press, The Greensboro Review, Ekphrastic Review, Poetry Hall, Moss Piglet, The Awakenings Review, among many others. The Root River Voices anthologies contain her poems; she is also found in the anthology, Unsettling America, published by Penguin Books, New York, and is a prize winner in the 2023 Rosebud poetry competition. Also, she is a member of the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets, the Root River Poets and the Spectrum School of the Arts and Gallery in Racine. Her most recent chapbook, When Wilding Returns, is available from Cyberwit Press and elsewhere online.
the bridge of memories
I remember the last time you crossed
the bridge of memories,
all was green and bright and fun,
giggling as you ran, the sweetest song
My heart skipped a beat by the river’s edge
yet you rose like the sun
running up the arched back of the water dragon,
its skeletal form spanned the silence below
Gripping it’s spine like a handrail
you climbed onto its ribs
such was the dare within you,
such was the want of your heroic heart
We looked into the broken mirror
you saw flowers in your mother’s hair,
you said you wanted to stroke the water
as the willow with its long, elegant fingers
The air hummed with honeybees
and dripped with sickly sweet perfume
and my hands were poised to catch you,
yet you just opened you wings and flew
Andy lives and works south of the Thames in Southeast London. His work has been published in various print and online magazines and anthologies such as, Obsessed with Pipework, Sarasvati, Marble, Ink Drinkers, Green Ink, Spillwords, Oddball, Shot Glass, Southlight, The Dawntreader, Networds and The Ekphrastic Review.
Time swarms just as I do,
With my many friends and my many lovers
On the pond, reaping spring’s harvest.
“What do you know of life’s dolour?” He asks.
Time swarms slowly and lazily,
A bright and cumbrous shadow of the sun
Hangs atop the deep blue, the deeper green.
An afternoon stretched out like a silk scarf
Painted in colours of blushing cheeks and
Dancing girls and soft-soled men with sinewy limbs.
It dips it toes in the floating bed of flowers
Resting its feet on top of pillows of glassy water.
Time is what looks me in the eye --
And asks me to choose myself.
I choose to cling to his body, holding on.
Lest I drown.
Soon at the lake of foliage and insect song.
Its waters still yet alive and buzzing
Thousand screaming dragonflies
Sucking pink nectar. Their wings silver,
Their bellies swollen with want for more.
They hunger like men, the flowers seduce
I, who is neither, or everything at once,
Want for nothing — at the moment.
Here is a father, pushing me gentle
(into the crushed green silk of the lake),
holding me soft
(water swims up my nose, it fills my eyes; I let out a sob)
It hits you before you know it has.
An unseen apricity, a hurrying aggression but
Who could blame such rush?
He soon gets up from the grasp
Of water, all golden-brown and muscled
An Apollon shining against the lucent sky.
Quiet yet obstreperous, almost too much so.
I sense that I have failed him somehow today.
Later in the day, the dragonflies feast
On my cheeks now flushed from the
Vernal sun, the pond is all cornflower
Blues sprinkled with splotches of
Soft water-lilies. Drops of water cling
To the petals. They are afraid to let go,
Afraid to drown, holding on
For dear life.
A poet, writer and acrylic/oils/mixed-media artist, Upasana Mitter pursues a degree in Sociology from Calcutta University and resides in West Bengal, India. She occasionally sits down at a keyboard and lets herself go for a little too long. You can find her painting away her graceless inner turmoils on Instagram @rumpelstilskin1693. Her writing has previously appeared or forthcoming in The Ekphrastic Review and The Tiger Moth Review.
Every Lily Donned with Grief
With every deft stroke of the brush, Claude Monet must have felt closer to the God in which he didn’t believe — reinventing his life on canvas —
refracting light, channeling reparations, playing hopscotch atop water lilies with oils, composing 250 times, but never quite getting it right
the burning aura of cataracts limiting light, altering his perception before banning the browns, dousing the earth tones, and finally annihilating the
inky tones in favor of the baby blues and aquamarines — his indigo soul eclipsing the royal hues of sapphire as he hurled himself off a bridge and
into the Seine — but life could not be eradicated like the swipe of his hues, so the humble river cast him back — tempting fate in his redo of
life — every lily donned with grief — proliferating with each heartbreak — first Camille, then Alice, and finally his firstborn son, Jean, to which
the loss of his wives paled blue in comparison — hoping to change fate with every deft stroke of the brush, Monet tried to get closer to God —
closer to the God in which he hoped to believe.
Ann Marie Steele
Ann Marie Steele, who resides in Charlotte, NC, America, is a writer who dabs in poetry, as well as some essays and short stories. She holds a BS in Journalism (News-Editorial), and an MA in Secondary English Education. Although Ann Marie works as a high school English/Special Education teacher, she has a flair for writing poetry. She pens poetry about love and loss, and what she observes and experiences. Her writing has been described as resiliently defiant. Having published more than 200 pieces on Medium.com, she has quite recently reached the sought-after 1K follower milestone. When not writing or teaching, Ann Marie is an avid participant of Acro yoga aka Partner Acrobatics, where she can often be seen flying and hand-standing upside down just for kicks.
The Book of Miracles (part 1)
It was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen, my mother said. I thought it looked like the Garden of Eden or Heaven, maybe. Then I noticed something glowing. My mother went on to describe a woman. And she wasn’t standing on the bridge but floating just above it, with bare feet, my mother said, emphatically. Imagine that! Shoes were a big deal to my mother who grew up during the Great Depression and had to share a single pair of shoes with one of her sisters. The idea that someone would go barefoot by choice was foreign to her, more foreign, apparently, than a woman hovering in the air, giving off a green light though she was dressed almost entirely in blue.
I was rapt in part because my mother was not the storyteller in our family. She continued, describing in detail a weeping willow leaning into a pond, the surface of which was covered in lily pads. A bridge she had never seen, later identified as Japanese in style, arching over the water, looking as if it had all always been there, smack in the middle of Norwood Avenue. It was late afternoon, she explained, I was walking home late from school and suddenly the sky was dark and nothing looked familiar. I thought it was a tornado maybe, but when I looked around me, everything was still and green.
In other reported and/or verified Marian sightings, the Virgin Mary appeared near a grotto, a cave, a fountain, etc., but never a bridge. This would have happened at the end of the Golden Age of Marian Sightings (1830-1933). In my mother’s case no promises were made and Mary had no political message like the ones she delivered to Mary Ann Van Hoof of Nacedah, Wisconsin in 1949(1). There were no directives, no medals ordered to be worn by the devoted. In fact, when my mother saw the Virgin Mary, neither of them spoke at all.
Were you lost? I asked. No, not really, my mother said, but yes, I guess I was. If you know what I mean? I did not know what she meant, but I nodded. This was how our relationship worked. I knew she needed someone to understand, deeply. And I had always been convincing with thoughtful facial expressions that suggested an intelligence I didn’t possess.
It is almost 6:00 when the hospital calls and the sky is beginning to darken. We can get you in to see your mother, the nurse says. You’ll have to sign in at reception and someone will meet you to help you get ready. You’ll have one hour. I thank her and grab my coat and the one thing I think my mother would want: her icon of the Virgin Mary.
While my father prayed nightly to God standing in his boxers and t-shirt, my mother was a bit of a religious rebel in that she prayed directly to Mary. In terms of Mary, according to the church: venerate, okay, but worship, no. It sounds like semantics to me, but pray was my mother’s word, not mine. I don’t know exactly what she was praying for. I never asked.
My mother’s life was not what anyone would call blessed, which made me wonder: What if the important part of my mother’s vision was not the Virgin Mary, but the bridge? It occurred to me that I had seen this bridge, or one very much like it, similar in style if not colour. I was not in any state of ecstasy or in a trance; I was simply out walking and I wasn’t lost. I was in the woods behind my house. I had gone so far as to cross the railroad tracks and there was a small opening in the brush and I followed the thin, but unmistakable path to a pocket in the forest. When I looked across the small clearing I saw a bridge. It never occurred to me to cross it. It was just beautiful. Breath-taking, really. The bright-white simplicity of it and the surprise of finding it where I did was enough. It never glowed or changed color and I never saw any kind of apparition hovering around it. No words of advice or messages popped into my head upon seeing it. Could it be that it just was? And I just was? Could that be explanation enough?
My mother isn’t awake when I arrive which is okay because I’m not at the hospital for a visit. I’m here to help her cross over. She has been lingering for days. You and me, we’re good. I know you did the best you could. I say. And now you can rest. I place the small icon next to her. I brought Mary. Can you see her? Can you take her hand?
When I leave the hospital it is nightfall. I go home and cook dinner for my kids. My husband and I watch some t.v. and get ready for bed. The whole time, I’m waiting for the phone to ring. At 12:01 a.m.the hospital calls again and I hear the now familiar voice of the nurse: I’m sorry to tell you…
In the years since my mother’s death what I have come to realize is that the important thing was not the green bridge from my mother’s sighting or the white bridge seen on my walk, it was not even the appearance of the Virgin Mary. It was the story she told me. The story was an invitation, clumsily delivered and something I never felt called to respond to. But more and more I find myself wondering, what if I hadn’t been blind, but instead courageous enough to admit I didn’t understand and ask the difficult questions: What kind of lost were you? Why didn’t anyone help? Were you tempted to dip your toes in the green pond water even for a moment?
1 Hogan, Susan. “‘Pray and pray hard’: When 100,000 waited to see the Virgin Mary on a Wisconsin farm.” The Washington Post (August 28, 2018).
Crystal Karlberg is a Library Assistant at her local public library and a speaker for Greater Boston PFLAG.
To Claude Monet Regarding The Water Lily Pond
Your brush it seems can bridge the sensed and seen,
the heavy humid air not quite a haze,
the sun, though distant, present as the sheen
that mirrors and electrifies your gaze
at patience and precision of your hand
that's wrought -- with love -- maturely bloomed design
in colors you had studied to command
soft harmonies that nature could enshrine
as solitude begetting only sound
of symphony an enclave would admit
as industry befitting sacred ground
consoling those, who weary of their wit,
would contemplate the wisdom of your pond
as witness here and now to their beyond.
Portly Bard: Old man.
Prefers to craft with sole intent
of verse becoming complement...
...and by such homage being lent...
ideally also compliment.
I've Never Been to Giverny
Susan Barry-Schulz grew up just outside of Buffalo, New York. She is a physical therapist living with chronic illness. Her poetry has appeared in SWWIM, Barrelhouse online, Bending Genre, Iron Horse Literary Review, West Trestle Review and in other print and online journals and anthologies.