Two poems by Jean Howard


See how shadow
undulates across the bed.

The cat, an island
of white foliage, is anchoring
our world,
this sea of calm,
this fluid morning.

Loving light
as well as form,
minutes wait,
kiss the room—
doorknob, wall,
window, womb of this bed.

Birthing me.
Birthing you.
Birthing all of life
that we have traversed,
still as one,
miraculously whole
and floating amidst
soft well-washed sheets.

As sun draws dim,
napping within the down
of rain clouds,
light moves,
like an old lover
adjusting a leg
across their partner,
and I stray
from my pocket of warmth
to find you.

Rays emit
from your back—
heat, strength, skin
now softening about its
I know you
will be there
as remarkable,
yet predictable, as each
wash of day pooling
upon our gray duvet.

And my heart says,
“Always, my dear, always,”
even as my hand
finds silence
where you just
had lain.




Flight After Richard’s Passing

Into the thoughts of clouds
we move,
aggressive needle
fast on our track,
as if we really know,
stitching our way
across the sky,

Across time,
heading this way
or that.
Benevolent cumulus
notice our prick,
a minute pinch
that dissolves in light,
and they do not
take note.

Yet we move
each morning
as if all has meaning,
the purposeful tie of each
shoe, the obedient
standing in lines,
our little zigzags scoring
life, wildly bold,
then retracting as cowards.

Until it ends
in the morning shower.

Then ICU.
Life support
for the next ten hours.

Then ultimately
turning it all off.
The confused heart
continues its beat, skipping
stitches for the next
few hours,
pushed by electrostats,
tiny sparks
which will soon,
as all flight,
disappear in a cloud.




Jean Howard’s poetry has appeared in Eclipse, Clare, Folio, Forge, and The Chicago Tribune. Featured on network, public television, and radio, she has combined her poetry with art, dance, and photography.


(Front page image via)

One response to “Two poems by Jean Howard”

  1. Tom Sheridan says:

    Beautiful words and picture painting as usual by Jean Howard.

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