Sunday, November 2, 2014

Penny Harter

Shadow World

It does not follow you like
the dependable companion
you’ve courted since childhood,

played hopscotch with, met in
a schoolyard jump-rope game,
or seen over your shoulder

dogging your steps in the sun
like a doppelganger flirting
with the several other selves

you might have been. It doesn’t
stretch across the road, cast from
sunset in a tree, leaf shadows

quivering in the autumn wind,
leached of red and gold as they
receive their quantum twins.

But it lurks behind your eyes,
flickers in the dark of a village
on a map you haven’t read yet,

luring you to trust and follow it
as if it were a summer solstice
sunrise cradled between stones.

Against the Dark

As the planet tilts toward winter
here in the Northern Hemisphere,

each day's sun sinking earlier into
the thinning trees, the angels of light

who hide in the human heart
remember that they must begin

to open and close their wings,
must work at beating back

the vast wing of night that sweeps
its shadow round and round the Earth.

The moon and stars are distant
beacons in the fabric from which

we are torn–our mortal flesh
a shining that sustains us

in the work we all must learn
to do against the dark.

Hearing Voices

They can speak from anywhere,
though speak is not exactly what they do—
sending a blue mist up from the skin
of a river as it runs beneath a bridge
you are crossing, or kicking dust
from the throat of a roadside bush.

Perhaps the dead use these elements
like ear trumpets—those funnels
tilted toward the ceilings of darkened
rooms, inviting the disembodied
to slide through and ride on the wind
of mutual breath, funnels aimed to capture
wisps of sound and hold them against
the heartbeats of the living.

So settle down and lean your weary back
against the flimsy guard-rail on the bridge,
or sit cross-legged in the dirt at the altar
of an almost burning bush. Fine tune
your instrument to hear beyond the static
of passing tanks and roadside bombs,

and listen.

© Penny Harter



  1. Beautiful! It seems to just flow in an inspirational and effortless way!

    1. Thanks so much, Alice. And sorry for the delay in replying. I'm scrolling back to check for active links, and just found your comment. I'm happy you like my work!