Mike Dillon – Three Poems

Mike Dillon lives in Indianola, Washington, a small town on Puget Sound northwest of Seattle. His most recent book is a chapbook, The Return, from Finishing Line Press (2021).

He is a previous contributor to The Galway Review.

Death of a Nature Writer

In his last days they carried objects from the river
up to the house and placed them beneath his bed.

A bald eagle’s feather.
A cottonwood branch.
An owl’s scat: all minced fur and bones.
A blue stone.
A mole’s fragile skull.
A crow’s crow-black feather.
An early maple leaf, mostly green.
A bear turd, hard as a black stone.
A sealed jar holding the river’s stilled water.

Bearing a green quiet they brought these things.

Things easy to find. It was August. The river was low.

When the visions came no one was surprised.
All kinds of new friends flew about the room.

And he called to them with wide open eyes
as the first day of three days of rain drummed the roof.

“He’s happy,” his wife said.

The third morning of rain, as the river rose,
is when his eyes closed.

Cold Water Swimming

There’s a place where a dream inside this one
flashes before it vanishes faster than a serpent’s tail.
Fast enough maybe it has something to do with eternity.

It’s there when I dive into the cold sea,
tiny as Blake’s translucent grain of sand,
cryptic as a note from God slipped under the door.

I’m talking about that evanescent
moment between the cold-water’s whoosh past my ears
and the arctic feel of it storming my marrow.

It’s mostly-not-there,
thin as the moment must be between a stopped heart
and the owner’s knowledge of it —

the eternal present in a breath span
so small and fleeting it might lead
to something larger.

A moment to make the prophets stammer.
A moment on earth as beautiful as earth might be
before the cold rushes in.


The view to the west is fine.
A flashing stream needles
through a cottonwood grove
past the red tile roofs of the village
in the valley below
where swallows loop and tease a spire
and the orchard foams white with blossoms.
A wafer moon floats overhead.
An owl announces itself
from the woods below,
mute as a pillowed trumpet.
Four in the afternoon.
The time when the day drifts
towards the promissory gentleness
of those far, blue mountains.
She takes in the same scene
half-way down the valley,
her back turned to him.
When he calls she doesn’t move.
He calls again.
She doesn’t move
for a few breaths more.
Then slowly turns her head.



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