The Innisfree Poetry Journal

by Sally Zakariya

The Written Word


After we were tucked in

after she settled her mother

for the night, brushing the long white hair

setting the silver bell by her bedside

after she let Dusty out in the yard

and then back in


After that my mother would retreat

into words, novel open

cigarettes at hand


Or she'd take the Smith Corona

to the bathroom and send

crisp black letters across the page

each keystroke pinning words on paper

like insects in a specimen case


With the spoken word

she was less forthcoming

dinnertime debates would drive her

from the room

some things (she said)

a well-bred person simply doesn't speak of

money for one or sickness or politics

or feelings or Great Aunt Sarah's

disastrous marriage


The many things she never

told me would fill pages

what it was like to be an afterthought

third girl years later, not the son

they hoped for

what it was like to lose the man

before my father

the man who gave her the small figure

of a fox she so treasured

what it was like to try

and fail at a life on stage

speaking someone else's

written words


Lullaby for a Winter Evening


Lie down and let me tell you about snow

about geometry and silence

two parts cold to one part marvel

let me tell you of the twofold

mystery of its nature

how a single flake

dissolves at once

how two flakes linger

when they gather

whitely on the ground


Lie down and lift your face to snow

drifting down like petals

in a spring orchard

taste it on your tongue

a fleeting kiss of ice


Lie down and listen to the wind

wind through the apple trees

twisting the bare twigs

into complex runes

against a curtained sky

spelling out a recipe

for snow



As a Bird


It is the wings themselves I want

the strength and loft and beat of them


I feel the hollowing of my bones

the lengthening of my fingers

the hairs on my arms becoming feathers


I feel the birdsong rising in my throat

            the notes an invitation


I feel my ties to the earth so frail a good hard flap
would break them


Sing me a lullaby as I rise pulled skyward by
the wings I wished for 

pulled skyward as a bird skims the clouds

Copyright 2006-2012 by Cook Communication