BellaOnline Literary Review
Bearded Iris by Lisa Shea


Spending the Night

Rachael Z. Ikins

I grind gravel on adrenaline’s wave. One burst
catapults me 120 miles, as if I held my breath, 120 miles.

I exhale my face into scrub-grass up my nostrils
green my fingers earth under the nails
grit between my teeth taste Mother Gaia, yes, and prostrate
on her chest ear to her heartbeat:

cardinals’ scarlet cheer-cheer, redwings’ booker-T!
warm wrens’ chortle, downy-brown, reminiscent of your eyes.
Yes, I cry out! for her, for you…answers float.
Four creaking herons’ sinuous necks

scribe a story of night’s slow fall
across the sky above my head.

Sisterhoods of crows shout hurry! over velvet shoulders.
Lone cicada’s voice climbs the clouds.
Kiss-kiss- grasshoppers
bounce through milkweeds’ dense curl.

Skipper wings’ copper petals brush at
lingering crumbs of day.
Yellow and black striped
swallow-tails fold like hands in prayer

Robins chat. Woodpeckers code.
Coyote laughter. Foxes’ dance.
Forest secrets deciphered.
My wilderness. I decide
my way home.

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