Two Poems by Jim Minick

James and Jim Ponder Enough  

we live inside a hollow full of oaks and elms we live inside a hollow full of spokes and realms

that hold the light in a columned quiet space— of no light the quiet not quiet the space

a hollow full of wind-song and bird-caught clouds full of fog and one crow call loud

and the barred owl’s echoing questions          to blanket another snuffed-out question  

stay the chestnut doe whispers          steal away we whispered 

to her fawn shy and pied                          as our father died

star speckled salamanders slick banks         slick cheeked we gave thanks

wide mouthed orchids drop to kiss moss he didn’t know anymore loss 

once a bear wintered here in the dark of a log his eyes darkened each pupil a hollow log  

soft snores becoming morning frost on the rim breath slowed the cold crept down each limb

in the very bottom this cup of land holds         valleys crowfoot thick around eyes—each fold

a seep a muddy ooze a spring too small to sing draining the blue to gray to nothing

remember water carved this hollow         so cup what color remains before it flows

to bear it back on the backs of bears         and know he came back for one last stare


it is enough this touch of oak this comfort         is it enough, this memory? and this fort

of elm this holy kinship enough         of trees, this home—is it really enough?  



Solstice. The sun stops to rest before the turning 

back, while summer ticks along in the sweet practice 

of sweat and flying flowers—azures and swallowtails, 

sulfurs, skippers and nymphs, but no monarchs—that crown

is gone, pushed into a silent, star-studded night. 

So I celebrate the Great Spangled Fritillary, 

orange wings speckled with diamonds framed by rust.

One flies fast toward me and my sunflower-bright 

shirt to light gentle on my chest, but when I look, 

no butterfly tongue-taps the yellow cotton bloom 

or sups salty skin. Fritillary flew through me. 

What does it mean to have a butterfly inside? 

Jim Minick is the author or editor of seven books, including the award-winning Fire Is Your Water (Ohio UP, 2017) and The Blueberry Years: A Memoir of Farm and Family (St. Martin’s, 2010). His work has appeared in many publications, including The New York Times, Orion, Oxford American, and The Sun. His newest book is Without Warning: The Tornado of Udall, Kansas, a nonfiction work (University of Nebraska Press, 2023).