Ricki Mandeville is a two-time Pushcart Prize nominee and has had poetry published in Comstock Review, San Pedro River Review, Gravel, Penumbra, Hartskill Review, Front Porch Review, Texas Poetry Calendar and other publications. She lives and writes near the ocean in Huntington Beach, CA. She is the author of A Thin Strand of Lights and two chapbooks.
A difficult stretch of northwest coast,
black rocks beneath a sky that sighs with rain
and sends its wisps to twist around my hair.
This moody weather suits my nature well;
I crave the long lonely winter, cold nights
to lay a fire and contemplate the chance
of early snow, throw open the windows
of my cottage, summon the sky inside.
I have come late and graceless to my time
of living alone, my memories strewn
haphazard on the threadbare chenille spread,
swaddled in the delicate dust of time,
blank pages waiting decades for my ink.
Tonight at last I write, with lamplight warm
and the implacable thunder outside,
the slap of branches and the gasp of wind,
and frenzied fingernails of sideways rain
that claw the sill. I write until the storm
moves on, then wander out beneath dark miles
of sky. There is no light, only the waves
jumping like wild ballerinas, the hiss
of undertow, and a hoarse throat of wind
that whispers the run-together names
of everyone I have loved, whose faces
my stinging eyes impose against spent clouds,
where they glint for an instant like brief stars
glimpsed only once then lost behind tossed trees.
In Your Meadow
Before dawn, solitary.
A rain so fine it does not wake the grasses,
barely weights the clenched petals of wildflowers.
The meadow is not yours, really—but it is only you
with whom I ever stood at this lush rim,
watched starlings split the sky, a single wing.
Only you who stood silent behind me,
caught the hand I thrust behind my back,
knowing you would. In scant light you would notice
the tiny beads rain has strewn in my hair.
You would whisper that wild things slumber unseen
in dim hollows of the meadow’s green mouth
That you adore this pewter sky,
that you would have morning hold back its light.
You would say Listen.
To the silence, the small white noise of rain,
something like cellophane dying in fire, faint pop
of rising embers as something burns to ash.
The hiss of drizzle through parched soil,
finding its way to seeds we cast careless years ago.
Raining them to life.
I leave my garden untended,
sweet William and clematis gone chaotic
in the corner,
roses rampant on the pergola,
pink lupine thick along the path.
My cottage suffers too,
tendrils of ivy crawling the windows,
blocking the light as days grow short,
dimming the rooms, hiding the dust
of my absence.
I will see this only much later,
when I return one twilight
thin and desolate,
my friends saying again and again
you must eat something
as I turn their plates away.
But today I am hollow and half blind,
my backbone made of rags.
I let the wind blow my breath away
and take me up,
though I know it will leave me
lost in the wild world,
curved like a leaf around his finger.