We left the cold hospital
walls after needle pokes,
injected dye, you inside
a magnetic tube, good news
always, always qualified.
Leaving, we start to count
the redbud trees, in defiance
of their name and their neighbors
offering purple-pink oases
along the highway.
Out here, spring is covering
every other stationary living thing
with a yellow-green haze,
a reminder of life still left inside
what appeared dead.
On the trail, iridescent flies alight
on damp earth flecked with mica
shining in the sunlight
still able to reach between
barely budded branches.
The path to Liberty Dam
cuts through a stream, and even now
you offer your hand to keep
me steady on shifting
The water from the reservoir
spills over the dam, flows
white on brown mid-century
concrete, and we watch the swallows
rising and diving.
As hawks glide into view, I realize
good and bad are not neatly divided—
sometimes the muddy path sparkles,
and against the mesmerizing waterfall
I cannot tell the birds from their shadows.
Haylee Schwenk lives with her partner and daughter and two cats near Lake Erie, which, as the smallest and shallowest of the Great Lakes, is teaching her to reject labels and appreciate beauty wherever it appears. She loves cooking and feeding people, has recently become acutely aware of how much love surrounds her, and practices poetry as one way to understand life. She is very grateful for many generous writers who offer community and counsel, both in Northeast Ohio and beyond. Her work has been published in Great Lakes Review and Pudding Magazine, and she occasionally posts at http://squintingindimlight.blogspot.com/.
*Trigger Warning: the next poem mentions child sexual abuse*
Brenna Womer is an experimental prose writer and poet in flux. She’s a Visiting Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at Washington & Lee University and the author of honeypot (Spuyten Duyvil, 2019) and two chapbooks, Atypical Cells of Undetermined Significance (C&R Press, 2018) and cost of living (Finishing Line Press, 2022). Her work has appeared in North American Review, Indiana Review, DIAGRAM, The Pinch, and elsewhere. She is a Contributing Editor for Story Magazine and the Faculty Advisor of Shenandoah. Find more of her work here.