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Marie Word Nov 2013
An illusionist by trade, he
Could transport her from where she stands
To a magical spring rumored
To harbor manatees that turn
Into mermaids under the sun.

He needs only one volunteer
To help him spin the great machine
Until its wheels move too quickly
To see the metal spokes between
Its three hubs and rotating rims.

Two persons, four legs, and three wheels,
Travel through time and cross the space
Between the parking lot and springs –
Voila! All appear safe and sound
At the edge of Wakulla’s gem.

And in a moment – close your eyes!
Now open them to see the sun
Shining for the first time all day,
All the way down to the bottom
Where the manatees swim and dream.

The mammoth manatees awake
And begin to grow back their scales.
They transform and wait patiently
For the human girl to toss her
Wished-upon shell into the spring.

She finds the one and makes a wish,
Then closes her eyes once again,
While the practiced illusionist
Works his magic hidden by smoke,
And the shell falls from her fingers.

It floats to the coldest waters,
Slowly shifting back and forth as
Though it were swimming – and it is!
Transformed into a mystical
Creature, it sets the mermaids free.

The human girl jumps up and down
With glee at the beautiful sight:
Shimmering scales and flowing hair
Dart through water in their delight
And invite her to join and play.

The girl jumps in and kicks her feet
But must come up for air to breathe.
The illusionist watches this
From the sandy shore and he – ****!
Bubbles at her feet slowly form

Into one glittering green tail
And her hair grows several feet,
Turning to gold under water.
The girl smiles wide and dives to
Join the joyful, playful mermaids.

They jump and swim and practice tricks,
Splashing around under the sun,
But the girl missed her life on shore
And looked longingly at the sand.
The illusionist saw this, too.

Since she had been the one to free
The mermaids from their trapped bodies,
He thought to grant her one last wish
And with a puff of brim fire smoke,
She was transported back to shore.

Her adventure complete, she spun
The wheels of the illusionist’s
Magic machine and was brought home
With the help of her companion,
The great entertainer himself.
1.9k · Sep 2014
Lady Slipper
Marie Word Sep 2014
Sentry to the Pink Lady’s Slipper, protector
of the delicate orchid. Her plum breath speaks
in smoke curls that travel upward, a green screen that
paints a wet woodland scene. Once you slipped
her on for size on a moonless night.
Can you still feel the *****

of her bite? Cup the cool water
with both hands and watch as it trickles between your
knuckles. Use them for falling trees and
blowing bubbles into mountains. Make brightly burning fires
that lick

the undertow tangling your feet, drawing whiskey
from your lungs. Her pink slipper waits. Go
cover your body with dust.

Let her gather your crumbling yellow into her moccasin
and carry you above the leaf-covered ground to
a secret strawberry garden. Smell her red
and taste her white freckled with seeds in your mouth.
1.3k · Jan 2014
Winter Solstice
Marie Word Jan 2014
From the carpet floor of the living room,
I peer down the low-lit hall:
a ukelele and flaming lips song.
On my elbow, I seesaw,
waiting to hear that tiny voice
from the other end of the call.

Father sings to daughter
about the darkness of the world
and Yoshimi, the warrior
who has to be the strongest girl.
She must stand between
paper doll and machine,
to make a better world.

Little girl, you cannot know
all the dangers up ahead--
the mountain with the steepest climb
is your path to tread,
a Kracken under your boat at sea
is your ghost to slay in the end--
so don't look up and don't look down
and make Time a dear, old friend.

Set out when winds catch your sail,
let the land beneath you go.
Cast nets wide, take on the gale,
and when it gets bad, just row.
Row until you can't,
then look to shore
for the lighthouse that you know.
He's been waiting there on the sand;
he never let you go.

Set anchor there and stay a while.
You were fearful or forgot the smile
he saves for you.
But no matter how far you've gotten,
no matter the wrong or right you do,
a father's love is hard and sure--
an anchor to steady, a calm to settle
the storm that chases you.

And when you feel uncertain,
don’t make yourself a ghost.
He is imperfect, and may forget
you’re at the other end of the rope,
and the one that he needs most.
I'll tell you how I know:
if he ever lost his little girl
his heart could never be whole.
She is a part of who he has become,
even when it doesn’t show.

A tiny voice comes through the wire,
singing, chirping, silently mouthing,
like the changing glimmer of fire.
It's not yet quite what it will be
but it is hers and will inspire
with a lightness that comes steadily.
From the carpet floor, elbow-propped,
it could be any other day,
father and daughter making their way.


So I wrote this down just to say:
daughters are stronger than they know;
their hearts break quick in the undertow.
Without preamble or self-defeat,
when it’s your turn to make salt sweet,
the other end of the rope will show,
for a daughter’s love is nestled deep
in the strength she learns from you.
And nothing can strengthen that bond more
than what you’ve both been through.
1.1k · Sep 2014
Cooking with Dad
Marie Word Sep 2014
A picture of us
sits next to your bathroom sink.
I saw it as I rummaged
through cabinets
looking for toothpaste:

I was sunburned, wearing braces,
and you held a wooden spoon
with the same smile,
crooked nose,
and bushy eyebrows
in the kitchen.

You would come home early,
I would chop
onion and garlic,
garlic and onion,
to Metallica blaring
on your stereo.

We can stir the ***
until our hands blister,
but something added
cannot be removed.

There was the summer
we built model rockets,
the summer you took me to meet
our family in Greece,
and all those summers
we ate Krispy Kreme and fished.

I didn’t become an astronaut,
I didn’t learn Greek,
I threw up over the side of the boat,
but because you came home early
so many days in a row – just for me –
that was my favorite summer.

Today, over the
chop-chop-sizzle
in a broken-in kitchen
we fill a stained cookbook
with dog-ears,
small adjustments.

The same ingredients
never taste the same way twice.

We reclaim a day
out of years lost.
Then that photo
by your sink.
It was a small
Father’s Day gift,
survivor of four moves
and twelve years
of self-discovery,
still reminding you – and me –
of summers spent
breaking in kitchens
and recipes
we’ve been making for years.
779 · Oct 2013
September 16, 2013
Marie Word Oct 2013
Where wanderlust finds
   a measureless trail
When a hand holds yours
   in gentle swing with your step
Where there is room
   to make fresh tracks in snow
When two warm breaths
   curl and converse in the cold
Where and when
   don't matter so, no
When it comes, it comes
   where you must go, you go

Where harmonies shift
   and tremble your heart
When all that could be said
   is lost on your tongue
Where there is peace
   before time moves once again
When every star burns
   and you wonder at the night
Where and when
   don't matter so, no
When dreams come
   hold fast to some, let others go

Where a storm moved trees
   and tangled their roots
When the kind, easy world
   is estranged from you
Where wrinkles are left
   from the troubles you've known
When a break in the clouds
   threatens to close
Where and when
   don't matter so, no
When trust comes, it is earned
   but when it goes, it goes

Where tulips kiss
   the tears on your cheek
When two foreheads touch
   and your eyes close
Where you imagine fingers
   touch you neck to toe
When every movement made
   is in love's undertow
Where and when
   don't matter so, no
When it comes, it stands
   and is not easily let go
663 · Sep 2014
I once gave you a sock
Marie Word Sep 2014
I once gave you a sock
to cover your can of beer
one hot summer day
on a public field.

I sometimes wonder
where it’s been
since that Tuesday.

Perhaps it went on an early morning jog,
and saw all your neighborhood
looking up from gravel streets.

Maybe it sat at the bottom
of your bag of ***** clothes
when you went to the Laundromat
and offered a spare dryer sheet
to a lady who smelled like
red delicious apples and cheddar cheese,

or maybe it found its way
to the top of Mt. Washington
in the corner of your trunk
behind a bag of turkey sandwiches.

There’s a chance it could have been found
by your daughter’s friend
at her eighth birthday party
and become a thwarted puppet-foe
to her warrior princess doll,

or found by your Labrador
and buried in his favorite spot
under that crooked tree in the yard,
only to be picked up by a hawk
and placed in the bed of her nest.

It’s possible you could have
packed it in your suitcase
on your first trip to Spain,
and walked with it on Las Ramblas
when you bought pitaya at the market.

Perhaps it never left
the bottom of your gym bag
and remained folded
inside your right cleat,

but I like to think
it accidentally fell
on the edge of the Grand Canyon
during your spring break trip
to be captured in a family photo
later printed and framed
in someone’s house in some exotic place
where it could be, in memory, forever.
530 · Sep 2014
A Cabin by the Lake
Marie Word Sep 2014
My boat rests in the middle of the lake,
Rocking me to sleep in the quiet day.
Soft rolling waves soothe the dull ache,
Dissolving all the pain of yesterday.

I gaze at the shapes the white clouds make,
Before the silent wind sweeps them away,
Wondering what it would take
To lift me up and carry me away.

My hand dips into the water below,
Painting a new reflection of the sky.
A symphony of crickets bids me to go
From the warm quilted place I lie.

I wait a moment to hear it grow
And feel the tip of the bow give with a sigh
As I cradle it between each toe
Just before the dive.

I twirl and glide through silk to shore
Leaving my dear boat behind.
Ahead I know there is something more
Than ever I imagined in my green mind.

My feet touch the grassy floor
To feel the contours they can find
Then jump to reach toward my floating oar
Kicking and pushing to the other side.

My lungs again are filled with air
And I fasten my oar with string to my hand.
It skims the surface beside my drifting hair
As I push with frog legs back to land.

I lean the oar against the crooked stair,
My boat still cradled in the lake’s hand.
There was no other way but to leave it there,
Holding the yesteryear.

With one farewell glance, I turn to see
The faithful cabin that stands ahead.
It has been waiting all this time just for me,
Keeping a place to rest my head.

A place of refuge between the trees,
It promises, too, that I will be led
To grand things that are yet to be
A wondrous future to dream from my bed.
375 · Sep 2014
Surfing with Dad
Marie Word Sep 2014
1.
churning ocean
low tide, warm
tug on my calves
i resist the pull
down, toward shore
push on to the break
watching, waiting
a foaming force to
embrace my stomach
i turn to swim
smiling, riding
a salt rush to shore
slow, lovely glide
in the sparkling
warm sea

2.
we walk south
and enter --
the water is warm
then cold
my skin shrinks
i remember
when i was seven
we did this then
i rode the waves
a tiny body
caught up in the
storming sea

stood up
saw my father
his smile, and mine
ready to do it again
that is the hope
i wish for my daughter
the will
to do it again
be a lighthouse
on her rocky shore:
shake out the sand
and face the sea

let go,
let it flow back
a warm salt rush
the pull, the push
the most beautiful
excitement
and powerful force
to be hers again
342 · Sep 2014
Dreaming of Colorado
Marie Word Sep 2014
The white moon outshines whispering stars,
Illuminating my face and feet.
I step softly on the splintered porch,
Standing before the dark mountain shade.
My hand rests below my collarbone,
Fingers press into my steady pulse.

I belong in the sweet, frosty air
Where I can view blue and green mountains.
My eyes well, winking dark mirror ponds.
Each night mountains kiss the blanket edge,
Protecting nature’s wild secrets
Behind celestial tree-locked walls.
332 · Sep 2014
I want a love
Marie Word Sep 2014
I want a love that speaks its mind,
Seeks the sweetest nectar and dances to the hive.

I want a love that listens close,
Catching fireflies to watch each one glow.

I want a love that stands its ground,
As a stone holding fast to a riverbed is found.

I want a love that doesn’t hide,
As a dove loves one for life, true when tried.

I want a love that delights in play,
That sings and brings laughter to soothe others’ pain.

I want a love that is true to you,
A love sturdy enough to ensnare and release two.
312 · Sep 2014
Santa Librada
Marie Word Sep 2014
I'm kneeling.
My fingers wound
Like barbed wire,
Knees bear the weight
Of my guilt;
What I didn't expect
To show you
Were thoughts in my mind
About ***:
I imagine his fingers
Softly gliding along the curve
Of my hip
And as I gave thanks,
What fruit I would taste
On his lip
And as I said, "Amen, Amen,"
His fingers stroking
And I bending,
Pulling
Grapes off a vine.
Originally published in Wooden Teeth (Fall 2007)
271 · Sep 2014
November
Marie Word Sep 2014
Published in Fractal Magazine: http://www.fractalmagazine.com/november/
249 · Sep 2014
I would love to know
Marie Word Sep 2014
I would love to know
what tickles the corners of your eyes.
Do you see Pablo’s circus
in rosy shades? Or does the world weep
and turn your guitar strings blue?
Does it re-form before you
in images you will to be made?
Or do you welcome the unexpected
blend of something new?

What do you dream of when your lids close?
Do you imagine a great wave that carries
all the desks and chairs to a far-off place?

When you roll in your sheets
and fears keep you from sleep,
do you see blue and green mountains
or fields of rolling golden wheat?
Perhaps a rocky shoreline brushed in foam
or a soft patch of grass beneath your feet.

I would kiss the shadows into sighs,
And share in your wrinkled delight.

— The End —