Wendy McVicker has been writing all of her life, first in eastern Pennsylvania, and for the last quarter century in southeastern Ohio. She holds a degree in Philosophy and a fourth degree black belt in Shotokan karate. She has been a visiting poet in the schools since the mid 1980s, for the past 11 years with the Ohio Arts Council’s Arts Learning program. Reading, writing, spreading the word(s): after raising two sons, she can’t imagine more engaging work. She performs with musician Emily Prince under the name another language altogether.


“A brother never ends”      


but he may
break, a ragged
branch hanging
toward the ground,
shedding bark
and fiber.

Crinkled leaves
among the green
may whisper, whisper,
an indecipherable

Brother: almost
one flesh, but alien,
spinning out
in a spurt of dust   
or gravel, running,

A speck at the far
edge of the field,
where the woods begin.
That darkness,
its pull.

(title is a quotation from Anne Carson)




Photo, by Riita Päiväläinen


Against the wall
of the snow–filled
forest, a line
of pants — red,
blue, black —
standing frozen
in the snow.
Whose idea
was it, to place
them there, bodiless
and stiff with cold?
At the first thaw,
those legs will buckle—
kneel, then fall,
into the mud.
This makes me think
it was a woman
who set them up,
who awaits their slow
collapse, prostration
at her feet.
Long johns, frayed,
and worn jeans.
  Someone shivers
in a back room.
by the window,
watches the forest.




Why am I standing
here, ankle–deep     
in water on a clear     
summer day?
Weren’t we about
to play Beach’s
Pastorale? We carry
our instruments —
flute, oboe, bassoon,
my clarinet still      
as light and sweet
as ever —
But where
is the concert
hall?  Our only
audience, you
with your camera,
This brook,
rust–colored stones
and cold ripples tugging
at my ankles.
A whispery chill
of minnows, shushing
of grass.
Then, hush,
filling in with wind.
Why play?
Ask the sky,
those clouds catching
in the trees.
Ask the green
air —




A Guessing Game


We have so little
to go on.

Two cards, a letter.
This photo, where you stand

on the dock, spindly
and so far away, in a faded

red swimsuit—rubbery
smell of sand, of mud—    

hiding your eyes.

Even then, we never knew
what you were thinking.

You strobed in and out
of our lives, all

flash and blindness.
In the long years

since you left, silence
booming, like waves

against the rocks.
Guess what I’m looking

at now.
Guess whose name

is in my mind.
Guess who—




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