The alchemists missed the secret
of transmutation that was hidden in plain sight: 
when golden hour comes, 
the river turns to perfect glass,
the concrete to marble, and the blood 
on the rusted train tracks becomes 
glowing, liquid copper,
and if one tries to argue that the hour fades
to silver twilight and finally to leaden darkness,
they would be returning to the proverbial cave, 
having just missed the secret of impermanence. 

By Heidi Turner


I’m looking for the beauty that lives in the pinpricks: 
a single red spot that fills my fingerprints 
with rivulets, or the rivulets of oil that run
in rainbow corrosion into the drain—
my father told me I was growing up
the day I first watched a butterfly flutter
across my field of vision in fits and starts, 
pulling my eyes away from the ocean 
and into its orbit, a moment I’ve followed 
to bluebells and rivers, into the constellations, 
and finally, into this moment, 
the one where I am trying to tell you what it is 
I am seeing when I see the shine in your eyes.

By Heidi Turner


Mercy is a kind of whetstone 
that strafes across my spine,
sharpening my bones,
dulling my sense of time, 
and courage communes in silence
as you wash ashes from my eyes. 

The first time I see your kindness,
I disappear into the quiet, 
the tired stories I re-write 
are burned like incense on the altar, 
a vapor rising to the sky.

By Heidi Turner


It will alight on your shoulder 
at your first footprint on the mountain, 
it will light your way in little sparks:
 “You loved well,” it whispers, 
and it will be the well you drink from;
your heart will open again,
a flower in the setting sun. 

By Heidi Turner


Do you remember opening the door? 

Your eyes looked straight into mine
and they shone, lighthouse beacons 
over my then-buried soul, and you 
became my resurrection. 

 In my memory of the cloudy evenings 
and the mornings soft with fog, 
I smell the distant sea of ours and wonder
how the light in you has shifted, 

wherever you are now. 

By Heidi Turner


In every memory of you, 
it’s only ever April.

The hope I misplaced in you 
lives on in every budding flower
and on every dew-leaden branch 
(in the past, you are the morning) 
and in the rustling leaves and
dandelions blowing and keeping seeds, 

I hear the wish you whispered 
in my hair before I walked away.

By Heidi Turner


The prison I return to is the one
I was told was a precious thing,
that the fragile bars were delicate, 

 “Do not disturb” the imaginary chains,
the imaginary locks, 
images I’ve painted on the see-through walls, 

 and standing on the rubble I wonder 
why it was that I wanted to believe so badly 
that I was willing to reconstruct a new cell 

on the same site. 


All of my friends became shadows 
at the age of fifteen,
and you rode away from me
almost as we’d met. 
I remember when I was you,
you pushing red glasses up your nose 
and flying through history, 
a guiding Orion already growing, 
the constellation of freckles on our arm.
I wonder sometimes: 
Could I catch you if I still had my bike?

By Heidi Turner


Within the spinning universe,
the galaxies turn and the planets 
circulate around their revolving stars, 
and on one of them, once, 
what some would call many moons ago,
you lifted me in your arms 
and spun me around outside the theater –
In the motionless now, 
I wonder if we were the tiny gear 
the whole watch was counting on, 
and if the ceasing of that motion 
is the reason time itself seems to have stopped. 

By Heidi Turner


Is love only ever made of lavender, 
or does it manifest in the brine that drips 
from your forehead, congeal in the pinprick – 
is it the smell of cedar or the ashes 
drawn in a cross on my hand 
(I’m only as religious as my vanity demands)
is it gold, frankincense, and myrrh 
or is it fragments of alabaster
that I will bring home, having stolen
the trash from someone else’s garden? 

By Heidi Turner


I look beneath my skin and see
the outline I will leave when I leave 
the world behind – I see the carbon
footprint that comes of being made 
of what forms at the heart of stars
and electrified by the mystery. 
Is it that cosmic scarring 
and gunpowder wonder 
that you are silenced by
when your breath hitches 
and you swiftly kiss me?

By Heidi Turner


I looked for Hope and found Him sleeping,
I looked for Joy and saw Him laughing, 
“Beloved,” I heard, and knew 
that Someone was looking for me,

and on the mountain-side I found Mercy,
raised up like a banner, “Forgive, forgive,” 
“Justice!” I cried, but I watched Him die, 
forgetting Love would win in the end. 

By Heidi Turner


The seconds split between us, 
into recollection and memory, 
into what was (what can’t be again),
the ants sorting the draining sand grains;

they tick themselves into boxes 
that I carry to my car and you carry to yours,
and we never think to check that the hearts
we carry out was initially ours. 

By Heidi Turner


My favorite forest is full of ghosts,
but none of them are yours. 

 I sit among the bluebells,
unwrap my blue plaid scarf, 
“stay a while…” 

 the leaves and I consort with the past: 
rain falls and sparkles and dries, 
and we raise lightning rods to toast

 our restless walking under the trees, 
the living and dead discussing 
our fathers. 

By Heidi Turner


If you think the fingers that tip-type out 
rhymes and readable rhythm 
can’t speed up your heart while they chase
you down an alley and re-capture their words
that you tried to take,
if you think that only pacifists find their way 
to the war of words we engage,
if you think that bards are afraid to defenestrate
the thief on the wrong side of Jesus 
from the silent top of the Empire State Building, 
you clearly don’t read enough poetry. 

By Heidi Turner


“It’s just like Star Wars,” he said, 
a white guy I’d watched move 
from dreadlocks to buzzcut to man-bun,
“the way we argue with the darkness
inside us, when we can make it leave
by holding open the door of ourselves;” 
I failed to remind him how potent the fear
that finds us is, and that our bones themselves
bleed until we are out of blood,
that only death is pure white,
that we all fall in love with the thought of surrender,
and instead heard for the fourth time 
that the heroes of the story have no lines 
and that the Princess is superfluous at best,
a moment I use as an example 
whenever someone makes me sound exemplary. 

By Heidi Turner