Yvonne Higgins Leach

AGING TOGETHER We move the wreckage of our bodies,your slippers shuffle across linoleumand my hands shake slightlyas we set the table for toast and tea.Our decades-old view of the bayand we wonder if we’ll be presentedwith something spectacular in the air or from the sealike we did yesterday, like so many yesterdays.Either way, we know each day is what we make it.I pour us more tea, and our mouths fill with marmalade. AT BEDTIME, THE ENORMOUS labor of buoyancy forces itself against our bulkhead.By morning, it reverses and sunlight plays on the sand, drying the bodies of mud shrimp that know whento burrowbased on this timekeeper’s waxing and waning.The tides live in the crabsin the deepest ocean and the smallest whirlpools and eddies.From tide pool to the stars and back again, we witnessdaily the paradox of change and changelessness, every shift a baptism of shoreand the merciful bracing of anemone on rock. All this cascadingis performed by the resonant call of moon and tides.Startled when itswhite-breasted chest burns through the tree branches,we are reminded of this goddess gravity, her invisible vibration,her obligationto reveal worlds and then cover them up again.In her phases of quartering,she gives us sure-fire tides and that is why I knowon my morning walkthe carpet of shore is shortened by last night’s hour.Yet the jellyfish with a center the color of eggplant surprises,waits assuredly in a slant of water. SONG OF PRAISE I sing Hallelujah to Naturefor her ability to still surprise, cycle after cycle.For her offerings, those we can namebut not predict: always the moon proclaiming inspiration in her changing shapes,the backyard trees in their reliable statureaccepting their unpredictable canvas, always the sand dunes seemingin certain light to flow like a river,and the pasture switching outits curtains of color with each new season. I sing Hallelujah to my soulthough it is raw and twisted and discovering.At least it sees light where I had drawnthe shades, and become small. Where once we collided with time to build a life, raise children, create stories,now we are stagnant water and questionwhat each of us imagined, expected, hoped for. I know love is the because.It is what got us started.It is why we must now let go. I will move to a cabin on a lakefront,and when I hear the ducks announcetheir arrival, I will look upward, their wingsbeating rapidly, beaks prominent with honor, bellies tilted down preparing for a smooth landingthat will be marked by Vs of perfect ripples.And each day when a new weight is lifted,I will sing Hallelujah. Yvonne Higgins Leach is the author of Another Autumn (WordTech Editions, 2014). Her poems have appeared in many journals and anthologies including The South Carolina Review, South Dakota Review, Spoon River Review and POEM. Her latest manuscript was a finalist in the Wandering Aengus Press 2019 Book Award. A native of Washington state, she earned a Master of Fine Arts from Eastern Washington University. She spent decades balancing a career in communications and public relations, raising a family, and pursuing her love of writing poetry. Now a full-time poet, she splits her time living on Vashon Island and in Spokane, Washington. For more information, visit www.yvonnehigginsleach.com