Shelly Norris ripened in the wild west on a farm in Wyoming. She hails from a long line of post-Civil War migrants, pioneers, scofflaws, and illegitimates; wherever there is a “bastard” break in the lineage, that’s her line of people. She currently resides in the woods of central Missouri with her husband John, two dogs, and seven cats. Please, don’t judge. Working in the shadows grading sub-par college essays, advocating any 12-point font other than Calibri, and editing for other writers, she has been slow to send forth her own writings into the cold world of rejection and possible publication. Her poems appear in Verse-Virtual, Uppagus, Spillwords, Academy of the Heart and Mind, The Drabble, vox poetica, The Cabinet of Heed, and several theme anthologies by Sweety Cat Press, as well as The Owen Wister Review, Open Window Review, Blood, Water, Wind, and Stone: An Anthology of Wyoming Writers, and The Writer’s Club/Gray Thoughts. She currently wrestles with several manuscripts trying to strongarm them into telling her what they want to be. More recently, she has begun to publish short fiction.
Get Well Soon
A poet believes trees smell of stardust breathed in through starlight, a lovely thought. Holy wisdom requires letting go blame, regret, even desire. Maybe desire most of all, a lovely prayer. The road to freedom asks us to measure during this dark week between years rarified particles of stardust trapped in our worn sighs, accept this burden of living rootbound to a landscape where we scarcely thrive, admit complicity in fictionalizing frictions that saddle forbidden elation, own our handiwork in braiding a timeline that locks potentials into the dictionary of dead definitions. Neither time nor reason, not thoughts nor prayers can expire the isolation, the only known antidote to exposure as a citizen of once able broken bodies. Shrink your plans. Brave the worn warnings that nag of daily infection rates and body counts and shifting vulnerabilities. Thoughts and prayers. Everyone’s from somewhere, carries a hanky full of bitterness that won’t expire. Release the woman lonely in her thin hours and sick hate. Before you depart, hand her the sun, that brilliant flaming orange ball she expected to be gifted long ago. A gesture to secure some peace as we scale the next rung on a ladder built from aromatic oak that smells of luminous ancient light.
Peppermint sprouts first though audacious runners wintered green wafting exotic promises of Mojitos, Cuba Libres, jelly for leg of lamb. I fantasize ways to rid its invasive stranglehold. The FedEx guy pulls up short at the edge of the driveway, hops out sporting cargo shorts on a chilly day, pockets bulging with dog treats. Bearing imperfect organic produce, he doesn’t ring even once. I deliberately leave the tree shoot arching over the cucumber patch as one brazen cuke vine twirls around its trunk bowing it to her will, making it her trellis to support the weight of burgeoning fruits. Let her have it. Bean vines encircle my ankles, cinch and burn toward the bone green brands melt into thinning flesh, trip me to damp ground, prick and cocoon me in bristled strands. Drawn to my dry heat ticks and chiggers mount to feed. In a hot bath I drown them free.
The Last Time
The last time I spoke to my father alive I told him don’t worry about Christmas cookies and fudge; I’ll take care of it. At least a decade before I’d begun to regift the plastic containers of crumbles and sugary overcooked Penuchi that traced us around the country to my sons. In his last cognizant exchange with anyone he said well, if nothing else . . . and mumbled an incoherent instruction or request or deluded observation. For all I will never know it may have been his funniest joke ever. Though not an apology; he never breathed words that could be mistaken for I’m sorry.