Work shirt and cap on the back of his chair,
the old man settles in, the afternoon sun falling
on his face, his bare chest, the pale furrows
of flesh over his belt. Behind him
cordwood, freshly split and stacked, presses
against his house shoulder-high. He squints
into the distance; leans forward, one foot planted
in summer, the other in the growing dark.
Photographer’s Note: I envision the old man in the poem living in this house enjoying a moment of peace on the front porch after a hard day of labor. Although he is aging and hasn’t lived a glamorous life, he stands proud, if not a bit weathered, knowing he has lived a full in life. He is content with what is, never complaining or offering excuses for the unpretentious life he built. If this house could talk, it may tell me the same story.
Late November Woods
When everything’s dead, sap-flow stopped,
the aspen and beech slant toward a lower sun.
Their brittle leaves, scattered like ash,
crunch beneath my feet.
Stripped bare, bone-thin limbs –
your frail arms reaching for someone
no one else can see. Fingers so cold,
cold as the ground now holding you.
Twig-tops tangle, twist in the wind, whisper
half-words. Your lips, pressed close to my ear.
I wander alone through leaded-glass woods,
shadows streaking the forest floor – black lines
broken with light. No longer green, the space
between the trees opens.
distant mountains. The ridgeline, a body reclined.
You turn away, lean into sky.
Photographer’s Note: This pairing is clearly a literal one for me. The poem speaks to me visually as I’ve spent many hours hiking alone in the woods in late autumn. There is an intimacy within the vastness, a cozy inner peace that accompanies the imminent change to a colder season.
A retired English teacher, Suzanne Rogier Marshall has published professional articles, poetry, and a book on teaching writing. Her poems have appeared recently, or are forthcoming, in Cider Press Review, Heartwood Literary Magazine, Up North Literary Journal, Portage Magazine, Tinderbox Poetry Journal and other journals and anthologies. Her first chapbook, Blood Knot, was released in June 2015 (Porkbelly Press).