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Sample Poems by Molly O'Dell

Thanks to Elizabeth Bishop

I'll tie up my walking shoes,
put on that shark's tooth and coral necklace,

grind coffee beans and enjoy the smell.
I'll read "The Filling Station" to engage my core.

I might read it again, sip my coffee
and watch hummingbirds outside.

Just listen to those crows.
They're up there scheming whose corn to steal.

Because mama always talked about whether people
lived on this or that side of the tracks,

I walk with my head held high enough
to see above the tracks

and watch for sticks and stones along the way.
I let dirt get under my fingernails,

pick unripe tomatoes, am careful what I say.
I don't play bridge. Sometimes I stumble

when I walk and with no sense of direction
I start from a new spot every day.

Good Morning

will never be fresher
or sweeter.
Scarlet curves
cannot fatten more.
The flesh drips
with juice.
Go ahead,
bite the berry
and make this moment
burst open
your day.

Autumn Wedding

The plein air painter dabs color on canvas
propped beneath a sycamore that sags
from the bank of the Jackson. I cast
my fly into a colorless pool shimmering
between his dappled hues.
We intend to catch what isn't ours
but want the best of each to find.
When I ask the painter
why the light's so clean,
he says dry air and the slant of the sun.
Daylight draws shade from the stream.
We see a pair of dragonflies take
hold of one another, mid-flight
like the couple who'll wed on the riverbank
this afternoon when the fish quit biting.
We're invited here to see his nut-brown hands,
her rosy lips, their kiss.

Jackson River

Crotch deep in snowmelt,
with plans to hook
that trout I missed last time,
he hits my fly.

I strip, stop at twelve o'clock and two
as I've been taught,
then startle at a dark force
under my line.

A paddle tail breaks water
smashing its greeting
in the silent stream.
I am honored, beaver.

Red Cow

The farmer finds a newborn calf,
delivered of a small red heifer
in a patch of wild onions,
both of them cold,
lying in new grass.
He watches the calf stand
untrained. It wobbles away
bleating for nourishment
and warmth to survive.

The new mother rouses,
wanders off looking for her calf
she cannot recognize
apart from the place of birth.

He sends his son to a neighbor's
dairy barn for colostrum.

For five days,
drudgery upends the farmhouse.
Each member feeds the calf
from a bottle.
Un-nuzzled, un-licked.
Abandoned, thin.
Likely to die.