After the Storm

Like the bite of a crisp

battle between lovers


the branch is snapped

almost in two lengthwise,

still connected,  


dangling the spray of seed pods out

beyond the weep line.

After Reading Frank O’Hara


The only way to be quiet

is to be quick, so I scare

you clumsily, or surprise

you with a stab.


Frank O’Hara, from 'Poetry'


I am weeding

the bed of mint –

spearmint peppermint

chocolate –

and feel

the quick stab

of stinging nettles

through garden gloves


the damn leaves

almost the same

and while I rub

the tender spot

you tell me

they are good

for pain

No kidding I think


But what you mean

is that their extract

relieves pain

in joints and such


and so I squat back

down in the delicious air

and let the pain

surprise my hands   

with goodness


they actually feel it



The first day that shines  

like spring

I walk until I fear

I might get lost

then turn back

on a beeline to the big pine


where sounds of birds

drive from my head

our morning fight –


the same one

we always have

about nothing


then afterward


I rake the garden,

        leaves black, sodden, trapped,

        tines of the rake awkwardly

        clawing more fence than leaves


blown to this border every autumn,

buried under every

snow after snow,

pressed until they hold so tight

to the ground


that when I scrape them free

the bare dirt releases gasps

of bright grass as if

for every birth a death

must begin the greatest joy

Ruth Mowry grew up in a Baptist preacher’s home and always wondered if there might not be a deeper spiritual calling than the religious teachings surrounding her. In the middle of her own family life with her husband and two children she returned to university to complete her undergraduate degree in English, and discovered poetry writing. This exploration coincided with departure from church, and it was through that separation and writing that the spiritual work began afresh, so maybe it is not surprising that writing has become her spiritual practice. 

Today much of her writing launches from the rural Michigan setting where she lives with her husband, finding in nature a replenishing life source for the spiritual journey. Ruth’s poems have been published in a few print and online journals. She blogs at washed stones.

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