Ballet Lesson

The flow has ebbed and left a tidal pool.
A little tern wades in with webbed feet
So delicate they wobble in the cool
But keep the balance of this athlete.
She moves her slender body, takes the stance
Of ballerina on the sandy floor,
Performs her birdlike steps in daring dance
Just inches from the deeper waters’ shore.
Encore!  Petite danseuse with such esprit
That you forget the dangers of the flood,
The predators that spoil your fantasy,
The squalls and all that make you quickly scud.
Oh graceful swallow, from you may we learn
Through time and tide to turn and turn and turn.



A golden silence reigns — a holy time
When on this autumn day of burnished leaves
And fruitful harvest in its perfect prime,
The quiet permeates the air and weaves
A web of wonder in my soul.  But then!
Such sudden piercing, penetrating scream!
A handsome hawk appears within my ken
And, swooping down, it interrupts my dream.
This keen-eyed predator is on the hunt,
So swift to strike with strong and seizing claw
That my complacency is an affront,
I must respond respectfully with awe.
For there is beauty in this bird of prey,
In nature’s moment, drama for the day.



The reason why I pocketed this stone:
It beckoned from the bottom of a pool,
A shallow in the lake — It was alone,
My own — I felt it round and smooth and cool.
Another day I found a driftwood piece,
An ugly form which waves rejected, beached.
This long proboscis was a strange caprice;
Exposed to sun, the nose was pocked and bleached.
My favorite souvenir might be this shell
Upon whose enigmatic face an eye
Stares up at me inscrutably.  Its spell
Has fateful powers known to signify.
Inspired, I worship texture, shape, design;
Inscribed are notes of nature’s underline.


April Earth

Beneath us sleeps a secret, patient world
Of fertile earth and plantings — bulbs and seeds
In moistened soil, safely tucked and curled,
Receiving rains sufficient to their needs.
The ground is soundless.  Underneath, the mood
Is active waiting, purposeful, and pure —
Anticipation cooled with quietude
Until a sure emergence is secure.
Then urgent stems must make their run to light,
They push through pathways in the loam, upswing —
Up!  Up!  —  toward a place where all is bright,
They burst into the warmth and fire of spring.
New shoots from tubers, bulging buds give scope
To subterranean harbingers of hope!



Imagine an immensity of sky,
A station — high! — where birds fill up on air,
On atmosphere so rarefied they fly
Inebriated with the truths they dare.
Imagine our propensity on earth,
Location where we humans toil below,
To feuding, hopelessness, and woe, a dearth
Of inspiration which might help us grow.
Imagine that refueling takes place:
Creation underneath some feather-fleece
Of music we can, pumped to full, embrace,
Uplifting, winging to a world of peace.
Believe that harmony exists — Birdsong!
The miracle was in us all along.


Betsy M. Hughes is a poet living in Ohio.

Featured Image: “Amarys” by Douglas Hofmann.

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