For My Second Cousin Kelly, 24, Killed by a Snowplow I’ve only seen her face in pictures— spiky mascaraed lashes contrast with fairy light in her hazel eyes, a coy wink saying here I am and there I go. The slope of her upturned nose a jumping-off point into her wilderness. But it’s her smile that captures— bewitching and free— a smile that makes you long to be worthy of such a smile. Then there’s that right-sided dimple, its undercurrent luring you close— not that you don’t want to go— a willing sandpiper skirting the edge of land and sea, plunging headfirst into the sun of her. Lemolo, Washington Lemolo—a Chinook word meaning wild and untamed For Susan We scoop pollywogs in buckets, slush them to our fort in the woods behind my parents’ grocery store. Peering over rims, waiting for tiny frog legs to sprout, release them hours later, properly named and baptized into creek water. We forge trails with sturdy stick-machetes. In summer, when the creek’s low, we cross on my pony. You tell me kissing her dried dung will impart magical powers—so I do it. You tell me you twisted our old madrona into its gnarls with your bare hands. I believe you because you are the strongest, the bravest. The woods are your kingdom and my escape from a father who drinks, who uses words as weapons— the bogeyman of our one-store town. Cousins—I’m blonde, pale, stick-thin. You have brown hair, brown skin, and curves. We’re Huck and Tom, Prince Marvel and Nerle, Swiss Family Robinson. I follow you everywhere—crabwalk the concrete tunnel under our road, raid the neighbor’s greenhouse to pinch tops off imported orchids, and when older—smuggle bottles of Annie Green Springs from our store. When someone breaks into our store, Father makes me spend the night there, but you stay with me. Sleeping bags on cold concrete, we scare each other with ghost stories. Arms covered in gooseflesh, I love your monsters best. For My 2-Year-Old Grandson For Harrison The Runner—he who jets across fields, into roads, with strangers, who hasn’t yet learned the carefulness required to maneuver this world The Backwards Runner The Escapee The Shifty-Eyed Puck—he who hears stay here, stay close, just before he bolts The Indoor Puddle Jumper—he who jumps up and down on anything— chips, toys, grapes, apple juice The Bug Whisperer The “Milkies” Man—he who demands his nighttime nursing to fall asleep The Little Fish at Sol Duc Hot Springs—he who delights in splashing and laughing as much as I do The Bye-Bye Boy—he who was born in a pandemic, who didn’t learn to wave bye-bye until he was older The Button Pusher—light switches, TV, DVD player (while we’re watching a movie), espresso machine, my eyeball The Wild Blossom—he who lights up when he sees me, his gaga The Shining One—he who spreads his innocence to a world hungry for new beginnings The Little Wizard—he who grabs my cheeks with his chubby hands and stares deeply into my eyes The Radical Vagabond of My Heart For My 6-Year-Old Grandson For Asher The Prodigious Dinosaur Hunter—he who takes me on forest adventures, protects us from imagined and real threats The Great Mushroom Stalker—he who finds jelly mushrooms in the forest, regales me with facts—all mushrooms have teeth, gills, or pores The Storyteller Who Never Stops Telling The Crystal Gatherer – he who infuses superpowers into sea glass, gleaming agates, craft beads, everything that sparkles The Sneaky One—he who stuffs his pockets full of shiny things when visiting me, his gaga The Energizer Bunny Meets the White Tasmanian Devil—he who makes me realize why we have children when we’re young The Snuggler—he who gives the best hugs and snuggles The Devil’s Punch Bowl Swimmer The Sol Duc Hot Springs Snorkeler The Friendship Seeker—he with an open heart who asks strangers to be friends The Stay Close Boy—he who prefers to be within sight of his family The Self Tattle-Teller—he who tells on himself first The Forest School Naturalist—he who writes poems about great horned owls, tromps through pine and cedar, waterways, thickets of huckleberry, lupine, and columbine as if they are home The Young Poet—he who sees possibilities hidden to others The Archaeologist of My Heart You You are my rhubarb dessert, my sweet obsession. You are my Steller’s jay, my blue angel, my flight of fancy. You are my mint julep, cool and fresh on my lips. You are my western white pine, my tall and sturdy friend, my deep-abiding roots. You are my peridot, my green shimmer. You are my Sea of Galilee, my deep spring, my clean-washed miracle. You are my lavender lilac, my fragile petal. You are my white wolf, my gentle protector, my fierce lover. You are my sweet obsession.
About the author:
Carol Despeaux Fawcett lives in the Pacific Northwest and earned her MFA degree from Goddard College. She is an award-winning poet published in 34 Orchard, Jeopardy, Between the Lines, Exhibition Magazine, Pitkin Review, and other journals. Her memoir and her poetry have won first place in the Pacific Northwest Writer’s Contest and her current work-in-progress, a fantasy novel, was a finalist. She received a poetry grant from Return to Creativity and published her first book of poems, “The Dragon and The Dragonfly” in 2017. You can learn more about her writing at www.cdfawcett.com. Her interests include paddle boarding, camping, the mystical and metaphysical, and orange cats.
Feature image by Laya Clode on Unsplash