WISHES

If I could, I would swim down
every wishing well I’ve ever trusted
and in the dark, retrieve my pennies,
not because I wasted wishes,  

but because I’m glad the copper seeds
I sowed all those years ago didn’t grow
and now I wish I could have them back
and drop them one by one  

into the ocean of my heart, or spend them
one more time and buy a single flower. 

By Heidi Turner

BREATHLESS

Your back on mine,
breathing in rhythm,
you and I, my world and yours. 

That was the memory I looked for
when I gave the past to the wind;
my mind betrayed me to itself, 

and all I saw was the skylight sunrise
the way it looked on another morning,  
the hours after your goodbye.

By Heidi Turner

SAFETY

When you look at me, 
I see the impossibilities, 
the miracles etched in the past, 
the laughter that echoes 
through the loneliest memories
and turns the songs to reprises, 
changing their meaning by degrees
until I am singing,
“I was wrong, I was wrong,
thank God, I was wrong.” 

By Heidi Turner

FAITH

When we were young 
we let the waves tumble us  

and leave us stranded in the sand, 
panting in the whitewash 

and we never wondered if we could win
when we dove back into the sea 

because every wave we survived 
proved that neither we nor the waves

 were trying to start a fight. 

By Heidi Turner

ART

The words hold on tight, 
little matches I tear off and light 
by friction against myself,
rubbing my convictions on the concrete
until they catch flame
and leave smoke-scars on my arms:
the smell of sacrificial lambs 
and accidental sacrament. 

By Heidi Turner

REDEMPTION

There was something like trust in your eyes
when you looked up, 
the light shifting across your face
and rippling through your irises
as though recognition was a stone
skipping across your heart, 
a wish granted and recognized 
as it skimmed the still waters
before you fell asleep.

By Heidi Turner

THE RUSSIAN DOLL THAT IS EXISTENCE

I’m too small for the universe I’m in:
a drop in the sea,
a falling leaf in the forest, 
the dust you brush from a diamond, 

but I’m also a universe myself, 
full of blood drops and water
electric storms that rage and abate,
remembered by the tiny teeming masses, 

who probably write poems 
like I do, pondering their significance 
and position in relation
to my beating heart. 

By Heidi Turner

RAT RACE

You keep your quiet,
the drawn blinds at 2pm, 
the free matchbooks you acquired
in rooms with Gideon Bibles, 
and I will let you have them,
give back the highways and the roads, 
travel only on pathways with names
and not numbers, 
and we will see in the end 
who can stand the sound of the sea,
whether you are the shore or the waves
as the rocks are slowly turned to sand. 

By Heidi Turner

SINCERITY

 

I could blind myself to the sunset,  
or save the words, “I love you,” 
like it would mean more if I first said it  
on a day that had no stars, 
instead of giving you echoes
when you feel lost in the woods;
I could deny the sky itself and pretend
to live on an ordinary planet
instead of learning the feel of your arms
and the sound of acceptance
that will guide me back home, 
my tactile constellation. 

 

By Heidi Turner

NIHILISM

The trouble with the void
is not that it looks back
at me, but that I can paint
over it in shades of scheduled crises, 
forgotten Sabbaths, old wasp nests, 
and the last few disposable straws;
I use these to build stick men that
guard the nothingness, the space
life so generously gave to me, 
a cosmic shelf to fill with meaning,
a concert hall to fill with light. 

RITUAL

It hasn’t rained lately, 
not in years, not since forever,
and now we’ve all forgotten
the very first rider who rode off
into the sunset searching for poison
that, nowadays, we take with a smile.

We hold each other’s arms and necks,
your fingers are stiff, still cold,
when you turn my head to face you,
and they warm when she grips your shoulder, 
and we laugh off the knowledge:
there is no cure.

LIFELONG

Nobody special,
nothing to see here,
only ordinary reformed into art, 

myself in your eyes, 
following your observations, 
understood in poems I didn’t write, 
seen and see-through in decades passing, 

my deepest form traced out
with a pencil whose eraser
is lost to time. 

 

 

By Heidi Turner

DIGITAL

We were sure
we were good for each other
and the blame lies in the photos now: 
the way you are so clearly comfortable
occupying a frame that contains me, 
the last vestige of us that pops up
near Christmas, an alternate universe
that only exists as a spark
in the hard drive. 

 

 

By Heidi Turner