Waiting for the first deer, we slip soft-pawed under growing moon
and damp grass after the stars rise. Headlight beams split threads
of half-light and stretch branches to greater heights. Our autumn
visions settle on broken leaves and piles of hay, as he shifts
the ’72 Ford pickup into first and turns the key to off. I lean down
to scratch the ears of my dog who listens for the break of a twig.
With the cluster of stars, we long for animal grace with bones loose as dust.
Pulled from the Center
On the canyon road
shaped by the river,
hands tight to the wheel.
She is glad to be alone
with the radio’s incantations,
wind song strung in rolled down windows
the centrifugal force
pulls the Mustang
to the road’s center
pulls her center alive
as the curves tighten into a knot
around another mountain, and she presses the accelerator
the road opens like hinge
to reveal a stream bed filled with rocks,
dry highland prairie, grove of birch.
Each turn a possibility
to see the open behind the closed door
to let hillsides, red woodvine,
river that sobs at the mouth
remain behind, memory dissatisfied,
on the door’s other side.
The Third Meaning
Standing on the running board,
he places the edge of his hand
above the rise of his eyebrows,
and looks into the sun with a salute.
Like an avant garde movie critic,
he weaves light from his interpretation
and frames the picture with three sides
of high noon and a rusty pickup top.
Maybe he’ll get the 59 head count
right this time as he calls “Come boss”
and one or two cows raise their noses
from the sweetness of the brome.
Above the Russian Olive tree’s white leaves
a red tail hawk soars with summer wings
still enough to mock this world’s mad focus.
STEPHANIE MARCELLUS is a PhD candidate at the University of South Dakota and a graduate of Colorado State University’s MFA program. Her work has been published in Alligator Juniper, Nebraska Life, In Times of Sorrow, Times of Grace: Writing by Women of the Great Plains/High Plains, The Logan House Anthology of 21st Century American Poetry, and the Platte Valley Review.