© mary vollero, 2017

A Miracle

Even though he’s been gone
for near nine months now,
I dreampt my cat Joey died.
He was on his side, bloody.
His insides removed,
a failed attempt to save him.
I carried him gently to the tub.
Rinsed his paws,
his soft white belly fur
blood fading pink in warm running water.
Then his legs began to twitch.
I told myself it must be some sort of reflex.
But, he grew heavier,
squirmed, turned to me
with his gorgeous gold eyes.
Snuggled on my neck
like when first we met.
I held him tight
as I asked you
and my Dad
and my Mom
and Nancy and Sue
if it was really true.

May Day

I need a miracle today
like when the hemlock needles drizzled over me
like when the bear appeared
stuck his claw paw
in my mind’s eye

Soft from April
my boots sink in the mossy path
rhododendron trunks
curly vines trip me
to cool my fingers
in muddy spring puddles

Two eagles circle
white tails on the bluest blue
A third eagle hovers
wings flapping

I hold my breath
as the heron glides
folds in to land
curls an “S” silhouette on the sunset
above the pond’s
evening peepers’ song

The pink moon
lifts from the ridge
full behind bare branches

I close my eyes and see
We are the eagles.
You hover over paradise
in the spotlight of the sun.



One morning in a snow storm
I hid in your arms long as I could
as the bucket man
from the power company
top down
a branch at a time
my maple
summer shade
taller than a church
just to run a new line
down the drive.
from my window I yelled
Save that branch from the chipper
put it on my love cat’s grave.

Last night in a dream
that tree returned for me
it’s solid gray truck
bare limbs reaching
weaving up together
under singing birds
when I saw a big cannonball bomb
strapped to its trunk
and thought
If I strap myself there, maybe…
but too late
it blows
dusty white
next white walls, white blankets
we’re sharing a hospital bed, IVs
they bring a measly dinner tray
I give you my kraft macaroni and cheese.

Bird Songs


Twenty-five marble stairs
out of breathe
I wiggle the rusted latch up
lean my weight
on thick weathered wood
step into Umbria’s sky
over green divides
yellow ochre crazy patches
tree rows
bell towers
“Oh my god! Oh my god! Oh my god!”
like nobody could hear me but the swifts
and my Dad’s holy smiling spirit
All finally close enough.



If it were a color
it would be white on blue-gray
tingling down my arms
shooting out through my fingertips
as they run down your spine.

Last night I dreamed
your back was a mountain ridge in my painting
curved sides like slides, symmetrical.
It took three tries to paint the mountain
the perfect red of canyon walls,
and your back was healed, just like that.

So go on
haul boxes,stack lumber
load the love seat in your truck
take it home
with you
forgive me
if I can’t smile
as you leave me still wet with goosebumps
pond-side with blue heron.



This morning
a sandpiper walked with his thin legs
down my stream
on the rocks
under forsythia’s
first days shy blooms
through wet snow.

We saw sandpipers
when you got off the interstate
you pulled your truck filled with paintings over
to the biggest tree
picked up a branch
held it over your head
My deer

Unloading paintings
sandpipers at the storage unit
in the gravel looking for bugs

This snow everyday
way into April
is making me cry.


Northern Flicker

We walked the path
drunk from the first blooms of white star magnolia
sat on trees that grew sideways like benches

I turned around
pulled over
picked up the norther flicker
from the center line
silky on my fingers
candy cane red
yellow gold stripes
eyes blinking
I set him in low weeds
watched him
watch me
till he flew
into the field



Poor fat bellied anxious robin
you know it’s always the last cold day
always almost
enough seeds in the snow
fell yesterday
from the feeder

I dreamed you smiled
as I walked toward you
your face changed
you held a carpenter’s pencil
you drew a line.



Yesterday when I opened the door
bluebird flew up fast
to the line
stayed while I walked under
thankful for returns
Yet, still can’t lift my head
off the feather pillow
cheek from the combed cotton case
cat from my back
I’m down
like when
my knees bent
on the floor
howling NO when I heard
he hung himself.

I almost told you once
when I was seven
talking with food in my mouth
my dad slapped me
and my tooth flew across the table.
I’m sure it was loose anyway.


When I get home my Simon kitten runs towards me
his back legs long as a fawn’s
I think of joey
the day the screen door blew open
him lost in green
you on the deck calling down
till joey’s eyes big
saw mine
and he ran through weeds higher than his head
to me

you and I sighed
on God’s rocks
above cool canyons cliffs
I held your arm
dizzy as I get with you
drawn to fall

Oh, would that we could let go
tumble as we want to
run towards each other
like fawns

3000 photographs of the Grand Canyon can’t show their faces

I had to cancel our reservations
when Dad got sick just before our trip
but he was there
smiling as I stepped back

at the first sight of the red rock walls
his voice echoed in the span
the way it did
in the days after he died
when he woke me up calling
“Catherine, Catherine…”
from the window
in the valley outside

And that night
sleeping in the historic lodge
my Joey cat ran
from the vast
from my past
to my arms
I kissed his long soft belly fur
his sweet orange scent
on my breathe
till sunrise
When arm in arm
my love and I
steadied each other
on the ice along the rim, looking out
looking in


How can we be now?
After those great dry dirty days
you drove us through
land cactus skies
moon stars blinking lights
petrified wood
hawks on poles
songs and clementines
dust covered bullet casings
even gas stops worthy
a cashier called you cowboy
I wanted to say the same
Hey cowboy kiss me above a biscuit with strawberry jam
on the rocky path
before we die in a hot spring
kiss me again on my lips my hand
on the rim
while I weep at the slopes
red, violet, brown
how do we recover from all those rocks God gave us?


When the nurse asked
if my emergency contact was still you
I said no
I was okay with that
But when she asked who
I couldn’t speak
what friends might I call
what lovers might not leave
I cried
and the nurse said
she was sorry
it was okay to leave it blank
Thank god.
And now
that cat you brought home
who once laid in your arms
sleeps on my head
will only eat from my hand
is skin and bones
and I call you.

A Familiar Song

A cicada got in
under the screen door
loud and ugly
mad bashing against the light bulb.

Has it really been seventeen summers
since I swept their dry web wings
off my sidewalk?

My arms float up in the tub
hands heavy and light
holding water
under my palms

I’m not starving, am I?

I didn’t weep, did I?
While we weren’t really doing it, were we?
Though you were
holding me tight
while the cicada screamed
from trees

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