Michelle Stoll lives in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, USA. She is a graduate of the University of Central Arkansas and her poetry and nonfiction have been published in Moxie, Sage Woman, Crosswind and the Glasgow Review.
My paddle goes deep and
sweeps back emerald river.
Memories wave like underwater grasses
as I pass. Deeper still
I plunge, push late-day water aside,
glide past heron, trout and damselfly
to the island on the Otherside.
Keel kisses mud where water comforts earth;
I disembark and step across
the fringe of hidden and beheld,
wait to hear some sigh from that new world of yours
where cares become shoes
left empty at the door.
…All is silence, save the wind
…All is water, save my muddy feet.
This violet mark on my hand
is proof of the Divine, a gift
given by an injured hawk
holding on to my invulnerable glove,
ambitious to stay upright
She watches me with a hunter’s eye;
fear, fury and dominion
She is the patient, the pupil am I;
a witness to tremendous
Life outweighs its clay,
cannot be valued based on species, prey or evolution,
is broken and glorious from the start,
racing to its finale, beating its wings
breathing deep the desire for
No top-of-the-chain human ever fought so hard to live
as a stitched-up, barely-feathered cardinal,
as a dog-mauled, plastered-up turtle,
as this broken-winged hawk cleaving to my fist
More astounding than a burning bush,
Her presence. More magnificent than angelic choirs,
Her holy cries. More transcendent than
a mystic’s prayer, Her
God of feathers, blood and talons
God of swiftness, stormy skies and empyreal sight
from my small, self-stained world.