Growing up in a North Carolina family of storytellers, Jane Sasser has always loved words. She began writing at the age of six. Her poetry has appeared in The Sun, The Journal of the American Medical Association, The North American Review, Appalachian Heritage, and other publications. A high school teacher of many young award-winning writers, she now lives in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, with her husband George and retired racing greyhounds. (Editor's note: Jane won the third annual Still: The Journal literary contest in poetry. Read her winning poem, featured in Issue 10, here.)
Thursday Morning Prayers
Praise for our place in the middle of things,
for the rise and fall of every week’s rhythm,
for beginnings and ends and the center’s warm stream.
Praise for the red-tailed hawk aloft in the tree,
and the field mouse who waits, and ponders escape.
Praise for persimmons’ small gifts, the sweet
with the bitter, the pulp with the seeds,
for richness in a season of ceasing.
Praise for skies gray as a storm at sea,
for this place between summer’s sun
and the icy grasp of winter’s dark hand.
Praise for the first steps after grief, our feet
numb but knowing, for the way our hearts
find the old trodden paths. Praise
for the present we almost failed to see,
this ordinary field of weeds, gilded with frost,
awash in morning’s pink light.
No crackle of burning bush,
no angel in pearly light,
no Damascus road’s blinding flash,
but this whisper like a door
thrown wide to spring,
where smell of green promise
perfumes damp air.
All those years she trudged,
sturdy shoes on steady ground,
unaware she had wings!
She reaches for sweet fruit,
Eve’s knowledge buzzing
like bees around her head.
She can’t go back.
She’s a born-again soul
rising cool and wet from
the clay-red pond,
genesis and exodus
the road her heart must take.
Over the roar of other looms,
hearing this wooden shuttle thump,
she feels the urgent pull of June
drawing her through those dusty panes,
back to the farm. She’s ten again,
passing blue roadside chicory,
into the woods, the shadows’ cool,
clack and scrape of pine in wind.
She’s climbing the oak-- strong branches bend
and hold beneath her calloused feet.
She shinnies up the furrowed bark,
hugging sweet sway of breath and leaf
toward the place where green meets blue.
Hard work, to forget.
Faces force their way
into your dreams,
even if their names
have floated like freed kites.
You focus again,
dump files of years and words.
But an old grudge juts out,
scrapes your ankle before
you’ve grown wings.
No one knows you,
the child-you still there.
Throw them out,
these boxes of anchors,
this aching of bones,
the Christmas you waited
for the nothing
that was yours all along.
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