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Judith Mikesch McKenzie

The Great Northern Nears the Station

Even in full dark, the heat

makes the air outside

the window waver

like the fever-ripples

above a

summer sidewalk

From far below on the valley

floor, the sound of a

distant train whistle


across the fields and

rises up

to push in the

folds of the

sheer curtains

next to our bed

I am both here with you

then and here alone

now, lying

in the dark

listening to the distant

sound, and you

breathing beside me

in perfect rhythm with

the solemn song of

the train

on midnight air

My heart follows that sound

into the sky,

knowing even then

that you were slipping


faster than

the rushing railroad cars.

Afterlife in Blue

It smells of green, the wood beneath me, a smell so sharp

I expect to look down and see the planks beginning to


But the sun, hot on my back, makes the grey of the wood

planks shine smooth as a silver platter ready for a


I shade my eyes with one hand, blue everywhere around me,

water and sky, and in the midst of it a line of gleaming


where you cast your line out over and over, whipping it against

the blue air, perhaps going for distance, or a particular


beckoning from the open sea. Who are you? I don’t even want

to look. So many there are I’ve known this way, sitting in


on a dock over bright water, knowing my own line to be a short

distance away, resting unused against a rail or on the planks


or intentionally left at home in favor of a dog-eared book or a

warm blanket to sun on, arm flung over my eyes against the


breathing in the sharp air, its heat, the musty smell of the dock,

and the sense of someone loved and treasured with a fishing


breathing free and clear just a few feet away from me

in the sun


Judith Mikesch McKenzie has traveled much of the world, but is always drawn to the Rocky Mountains as one place that feeds her soul. She loves change—new places, new people, new challenges, but writing is her home. Her poems have been published in Wild Roof Journal, Halcyone Literary Review, Plainsongs Magazine, Elevation Review, Scribblerus, Cathexis Northwest Press, Meat for Tea Valley Review, and several others. She is a wee bit of an Irish curmudgeon, but her friends seem to like that about her.


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