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Wendy Mannis Scher


Before the First Draft

4am, the end
             of September when 
                           florid leaves and skin
signal 
             winter's approach.  
                           I stand outside
beneath the eaves 
             as rain
                           sluices through gutters 
and watch it 
             tumble
                           in the house light.  
I see wings.
             Bits of luminescence, 
                           they fall
aglitter against
              the black of what
                           I do not see but know 
only to be
             memory of a field 
                           hedged with pines.
I hear 
             a word call to me,
                           call like a 
bird whose voice 
             I cannot name and yet 
                          long to utter.

 
In the Heat of

September afternoons, the mule deer
follow the canyon trails down

into town.  Does and fawns with smooth
brindled coats, gawk roadside, stripping 
leaves as bucks gather

in fields, their massive antlers
raised like fists against the sky.
Horizon snow clouds pin

the mountains, but here
in the florid creek valley, thick
with squirrel and jay calls,

a wind riffles branches, the pages
of my open notebook
where leaves and needles lodge,

slick with tree sap.  They mark
the sheets with a fragrance I will taste
long after the winter snuffs out

the harvest, my feverish riot of words.

 
After the wildfire

the sun collects jagged rocks
that look like fists scattered
in the scorched meadows.

We sort the shards-

glinting below our paper masks-
nails from tines, gravel from glass,
metamorphosed from ordinary to intimate,

with edges keen enough to slice

through skin, through leather.  Dirt
and ash gnat-swarm, and we rake
with eyes averted to tokens, to autumn

already kindling sentiment and aspens.

 
After the Storm

How green the morning-
ribbons of grass, moss, needles
freckled with stars.
I hear the water wash
the road, scrub it, shape it
the way canyons are carved
in textbooks.  It is not
of us, for us-this road
that springs from the mountains,
drawn down, down, down
into crevasses we call
gullies, gulches, ditches
drought-dry no more.
It seeps, nudges
shoves and drowns,
unmakes all that we've made.
Shred the maps.
Our roads are gone
to rivers and with them,
the home we thought
we owned.




Wendy Mannis Scher, a graduate of the Low Residency MFA program for Creative Writing/Poetry at the University of Alaska/Anchorage, lives with her family in the foothills west of Boulder, Colorado. In addition to her writing, she works as a drug information pharmacist at a poison and drug information call center.


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