Two Poems by Sandra McPherson

Willow Springs 88

Found in Willow Springs 88

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Simple Science


Our first time, I was not taking field notes.

The gift was too great to jot down.

Then together for years we bothered

wild terrain to botanize or bug.

When he watered the columned grape arbor

in his life’s last hour

I didn’t see the Higher Power

hieroglyph his fate in the mist.


It is long past the season of the notebook

and the prosody of the alpenstock.

Too late to scribe with my eye

the scrub-jay fishing from a stone,

to muffle look, look and grip

my husband’s wrist


with my left that can’t write.

The scribbler on some occasions

is a cloud, and, too, a corpulent eraser.

Beware of muddy, grassy diaries.

They’ll entrap the snoop’s boots

bent on finding wonders

in those writingfields:

owl-shat moon-bones, dark fountains of ants,

a harebell nodding as if reading.


Portraits in My Room



Of a blue-blush suit, you’re

sullen; yet before a sapphire

bay, you’re sparkle. Consort

of painters, wife of John

Sloan’s fame. And this, by

Agnes Richmond. Thick-brushed

hair makes a premonition

over your ear.

A distant boat, going further away.

Your chin shades your throat.

It drank much, said rumors.

Stop posing, Dolly. Pause.



Three times women

rest their chin in a palm—

Why we do I don’t

know except girlhood

starts it when the hand

is small, and the chin

a stage beyond


The eyes change too

—the hand has something to do

with the glance.

Mouth always closed—

you can’t talk in that pose.

But speak? “Hmmmm.”


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