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 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 Her interests include paddle boarding, camping, the mystical and metaphysical, and orange cats. 

Feature image by Laya Clode on Unsplash