First married

The river is slow to anger,
almost stagnant in mid-summer.

Smells like moss rock, the burbled
slippery kind that turns rust brown

in August, reeks of rotting. Moon still
out, agrees to follow me, whittled

under her constant orange eye.
I am smoldering, newly furrowed.

Trapped sparrow against heavy glass.
Drowning in wallpaper, odor of his

talcum, oiled bureau while talons
spring from my fingers. But nothing

to spear except words which cannot
be captured. Ice clouds, then fog banks

all round him, seeps inside me, stays
like a sad song thawing my heart

but chipping me apart chink by chink.
I am going to be chiseled, a hunk

of old plaster, the house remodeled,
sleek plastic, textured glass. But I am just

a dirt girl, so crawl to the yard, smell the spice
of tomatoes just climbing out of their cages.

Hunting season

On a day of bone picked clean, scavengers
circling, worry rattling its deep hollow,
this path to wander down or plod – even
if you don’t belong in open air, leaf quilt.

How woods build a room of gold, then paint it
tawny or slick gray in late November.
Clearings, songbird still, or whistling through
your chafing heart, softly waving phragmites.

Off the small ridge, roots entwine like steps
and you pick your way down – alone, except
the dog who halts now and then, pricks
her velvet ears which stand like little tents.

Below, the breeze is damp off the farm pond.
And there, three fat white swans float and dip.
Their bottoms rise like silent boat hulls, plump
and solid. While the heron skulks in the corner

where she often waits, a sheath, in shadows.
Salute her as you do the white-bellied
hawk dangling a squirming small thing from her
beak, the huntress who’ll protect and keep you.

Photo by Branimir Balogović on Unsplash.

Ellen Stone

Ellen Stone taught special education in public schools in Kansas and Michigan for over thirty years. She advises a poetry club at Community High School and co-hosts a monthly poetry series, Skazat!, where she lives with her husband in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Ellen’s poems have appeared most recently in Dunes Review and The Museum of Americana, on Verse Daily, and in the anthology Choice Words: Writers on Abortion (Haymarket Books, 2020). Poems are forthcoming in Mom Egg Review, Willawaw Journal, and in the anthology A Tether to This World (Main Street Rag, 2021). Ellen is the author of What Is in the Blood (Mayapple Press, 2020) and The Solid Living World (Michigan Writers’ Cooperative Press, 2013). Her poetry has been nominated for the Pushcart prize and Best of the Net.

Ellen can be reached at her website: