The door opens with an inhale of air
I bring cold in with my parka.
Here, the smell of warm rolls
no longer wafts from the kitchen.
The yellow countertop
greets me like sunshine.
I painted it for you
when your eyesight was failing.
Three cups rest in the dish rack,
a tattered dragonfly is pinned
on a bulletin board. A cracked mug
holds gathered bird feathers.
From its hook your apron, imprinted
with butterflies and songbirds,
trimmed in red rickrack,
I pull it over my head, wrap
the apron strings twice around my waist
and tie a bow in front. I find
your flour sifter in the third drawer.
From the high cupboard
I bring down flour and salt
and recall your recipe—first
dissolve yeast in lukewarm water.
With my fingers I mix in flour
then I knead and knead.
When the rolls are still oven-warm
I tear one open, cover my nose
and mouth and breathe in your scent.
–after Joan Meiers and Kelly Terwilliger
Once in an archipelago finning from island to island
off the grid, far removed from cine-movies, my brother
and I flipped birds flitting swift-flowing channels
beside dolphins bucking breakers like seahorses.
My father called, watch out, be careful of fish bones
blue as the Aegean! Here sharks lurk
an angry shade of gray. So I held my breath
and we reconnoitered under the mimesis of waves
silvering like starfish. No one stays underwater long.
As we rode fast water, ferrying from dry island to island
in a drumbeat of sunlight, water-waders pink as shrimp
surged above us trailing their pipe-stems, dripping salt
and hooting. The crown of our nearest island was fiery,
jeweled with a skirt of palm trees. Two boys rode by,
on a bareback zebu, clutching it by hump and horn,
and laughing. We wanted to follow but the ground shook
and the air trembled. Coconuts thudded black sand.
We counted to three—the mountain erupted, raining
fishhooks in sudden sunset. There was no name for our terror.
We scrambled back into folding water and trembled.
Galaxies gyred above us in spilled-milk sky.
The sea sighed and we slept floating, dreaming dreams
we had learned by heart. We practiced being alive—
never knowing the gist of snow or magnetic green fire.
Dale Champlin, graphic designer, illustrator, and copywriter, now devotes most of her time to writing poetry. She is currently working on two collections, Leda, and Feathers, a series of monochords about birds. Champlin is the editor of the Oregon Poetry Association’s 2017 Verseweavers and board member of the OPA. She is also current director of Conversations With Writers. Champlin’s work has been or will be published in Social Justice Poetry, VoiceCatcher, and Mojave River Press among others.