December 2, 2014


Heather Rose lives in a small mountain town in Colorado with her three kids and guitar-playing husband.  She collects lots of little thoughts about living in a big world in her blog Words Whittle Down and is currently writing and illustrating a children's fantasy series called Knindrome.  Her poem, Opal Lake was nominated for the Pushcart Prize. You can read more of Heather's poetry in the October Special Poetry Issue of IVJ.

Opal Lake

If I could trace the track of the beetle bark
I might find the trail of thought
And follow it back to where I left you
Standing among the aspens.
But my mind meanders, like the opal
Stream collecting quietly
In a reflection pool and here you are again
Sitting where the ferns curl.
We can’t help put take off our shoes
And feel each stone under our bare feet.
We cross small bridges of fallen logs
and you make sure to hold me steady
but we both fall in just to walk back
wearing the proof of adventure in our clothes, dripping.
The trail leads us in silence now.
We talk with our fingers that pantomime wonder
Every time we point, we share more than joint vision.
Toadstools make a ladder up a pine while
Wildflowers bend their heads in conspiracy.
Cicadas heave a summer cadence into dense heat
As we find our way out the wilderness.
You do not leave me as I go
Back into the car, back into a world
Powered by motors and clocks,
And the list I leave by the phone.
I laugh now to have thought I needed
Instructions for praying ordinary time
To have found it written by the second hand
In all the smallest spaces.

Shooting Stars from Tree Houses

I wouldn’t put it past you, God, to skip stars like stones
across the sky through the pools of our wide and opening eyes.  
You’d do that, I know, just to listen to wishes that would rise
from children camped out in that tree house on that hill.

Do you get more of a thrill

eavesdropping unedited prayers-  I-mean-  wishes?
Could such a little spark of light give us permission to follow
Our joy blazing, hidden in who we really are
hidden again in you?  You’re like the river cutting
through the weeds, always whispering.
You, the blackened branches of the tangled pine
do more than frame little pockets of night sky
when hugging us to your spine.  You’re the bough that never breaks.  
Catcher of each conversation with your children
just to call it art, you had it hung already completed in your heart.  

Tonight I become a child again
swinging on the hammock and climbing knotted ropes
in hopes that I can remember what it meant to listen to you with such small ears.
I tune into little girls telling fairytales or giggling over old fears and
giving precise protocol for making wishes when suddenly
I’m schooled again in living.  
But it’s time to settle down now.  
Deeper into our sleeping bags.  Deeper into our hearts to the edge of dreams.
Your nocturnal voice is disguised in what we guess to be frogs or crickets that
Play your summer lullaby in strings as we lie in the dark, trying to be still.
The night chills.
Cats come to cuddle but my daughters and I are littermates.
Her hair presses against my face like a wild flower between the pages
Of a book I will understand when opened much later.

Long after the even breathing means the others are now dreaming
I do not want to close my eyes.  I might miss the night coming alive.  
Coyotes in the distance howl while owls make themselves known and unknown.

I trace your face in made-up constellations and recall old conversations where I you sounded an awful lot like the people most familiar to me.

Gazing always upwards, I imagine I am looking through the pinholes of a map taken down off a wall that marked all the places where you and I have been.

I’ll close my eyes and keep this map to navigate dreams
And make wishes-  I mean-  prayers
just the way the children taught me, because I know
that last star that streaked just a breath before I blinked was your last gift meant to unwrap in my sleep. 


Two Hours of Solitude
a love poem to God

If I had two hours
I would rub them together
until I saw a spark
to kindle fire enough
to make me warm again.

If I had two hours
one would be a pillow
and the other a quilt
stitched in the spare moments
I saved and pieced together
and I'd build a fort
for me to hide under.

If I had two hours
they would be an empty, upturned hat
and a cardboard sign
that said,

If I had two hours
they would be two hands
to clasp over my ears
to hear the sweet music of silence
that would wrap around my heart
like a white cocoon
so when I released my hands,
my heart could flutter free again.

If I had two hours
one would be a needle
and the other thread
and what is torn and ragged
within me could mend.

If I had two hours
one would be the compass
and the other the fortitude to find
my way to the secret place
where you and I could rendezvous
and I would offer my solitude to you.

~Heather Rose

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