Three Poems by Christine Pakkala


After a night of rain
the pine branches’ weight
pulls them downward.
Grass pleased into green.
Invisible wind making
a marionette show 
of maple branches. 
They sway and bounce.

My life fills with events
you’ll know nothing about.
Small as breaths
I’m stitching, 
large as the death
of my Sally.

You will not know
how we canvassed Helsinki,
talking about Bulgarin
until I was bored, my mind
not reaching hers,
and where she came to find me
in conversation:
shoes, snacks and men.

Death bore her away.
Life, you.
In this way I have lost
the pair of you, 
but my mind has yet 
to know it. 

Belief Systems

You believe in cortices, in precipes 
and systems, in the finite,
in maps and memory and song,
in meds and must not and methods.

Facts stumble through me 
so I believe stories
more electric than the jump-jump
you’ve measured.

An ocean inhales and exhales 
in front of me, its blue pausing 
at the horizon, If it comes to an end, 
I can’t see it.

Scientist, did you know chemo’s barbery
returns you to a child,
takes even your eyelashes?
You can’t blink. 

You breathe stars 
and so I hold your silence lightly:
Light as the blanket she covered you for a summer nap.
You were just a baby and don’t remember it.


Your heart beats inside a cage.
The girl I was runs across a field.
The look on your face empties into your feet.
Nothing holds you up but sorrow.
This world we occupy in our military boots
and march to the firing squad who we were.
Sorrow. Did I already say it?
My cold hands scrub the pillowcase
but the stain holds fast, a marriage
of blood and cloth that won’t loosen.
The girl I was dreamed she could be a pilot.
Where did she stay?
Where did we go?

Christine Pakkala is a graduate of the Iowa Writers Workshop (MFA, Poetry Writing, 1993). She has published personal essays in Salon, Brain/Child, Ladies Home Journal and Serendipity. She is the author of five novels for children, all published by Boyds Mills Press, an imprint of Highlights. Her poetry has appeared in The Seventh Wave

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