Donna Vorreyer is the author of Every Love Story is an Apocalypse Story (Sundress Publications, 2016) and A House of Many Windows (Sundress Publications, 2013) as well as seven chapbooks, most recently Encantado, a collaboration with artist Matt Kish from Redbird Chapbooks. She serves as the reviews editor for Stirring: A Literary Collection and teaches middle school in the Chicago suburbs
Like Tree Rings, We Count the Years
We hike the forest after fires, trunks
and brush blackened, consider
the cobbled streets we left behind,
their curves cold and confusing.
We embrace instead this chaos, ash
against the rusted undergrowth,
a darkness that coaxes us to wander,
branches hovering close but out
of reach. We swing our arms, unleash
our caged tongues to share a laugh.
I recall the casual courtship of us
clasped ragged, dirty with days
of dust, our hands threaded, a bag
of down to cover us, sweat stiffening
our clothes. Our smooth-skinned
bodies in the morning cold among
the trees. But I cannot conceive
of this cool youth any longer, can
only dream it under these clouds
that threaten but bring no rain.
We stack and restack rocks,
uncover what is hidden from the eye,
barnacled geodes whose insides dazzle
only when the crust is breeched. Words
unsaid simmer beneath fleece, stoke
our private refineries. We make camp
and, in the chill, the tinder catches.
We bank the flame, careful to contain it.
Warming, we peel each other open,
astonished that we still shine.
Donna Vorreyer’s first full-length poetry collection, A House of Many Windows, is now available from Sundress Publications. Her work has appeared in many journals including Rhino, Linebreak, Cider Press Review, Stirring, Sweet, wicked alice, and Weave. Her fifth chapbook, We Build Houses of Our Bodies was just released from Dancing Girl Press, and she also serves as a poetry editor for Mixed Fruit magazine. Visit her online at www.donnavorreyer.com.
Finding A Way
In my pocket, I keep a speckled stone
to turn between my fingers, plucked from
a wild Galapagos shore, the slow roll
of waves feathering the black sand beach.
Some days disappear like stones inside
pockets, like the tide that rushes then spills
over shores and jagged coastlines, a child’s
crooked drawings, wild and uncontained.
I want to be more like the color red,
like a cardinal whose plumage parades
its presence. Instead I tuck my head
beneath a wing, nest myself in shadows,
camouflaged in the breaking mist.
But because the day was rushed, I almost
missed the cardinal outside my window,
the slow burn of its brilliant wings
setting small fires from branch to branch.
Instructions for Stones
Start wild, tumbling in the tilt and spill
of a landslide. Hone your edges sharp enough
to draw blood or round and smooth enough
to settle in the easy masonry of a pebbled
bridge. Become a metaphor for silence lodged
in a woman’s throat, for worry in the gut
of a soldier. Take flight. Crack a windshield
on the freeway. Settle in the hollow of a small
boy’s fist for skipping. Bury yourself in deep
pockets of a woman walking into the River
Ouse. Live clean and speckled and favored
on a windowsill. Weigh down the pages
of a well-turned book, anchor the carcass
of a chicken as it stews to make the soup.