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Michele Parker Randall


Mary Oliver’s Devotions wedge

in the spokes of my father’s wheelchair.

Everything grinds to a halt, a stop-short. A lurch.

Recoil. Morning: I place my father’s pills on his tongue

like communion, in the name of the Father, the Son, the Holy

what happens when there are more pills than forms of God or graces?

And four, four, four for my headaches, and five, five, fiveghostor spirit.

Evening: He is up to eight.

I’m not far behind.


One body in the classroom raises a hand

to present a question on Muñoz’s poem,

how the blank page is perfect in its silence.

Inside an echo chamber, enchanted 

histories at their inception, split seeds;

one small tendril pushes against the soil

as a masked year climbs the calendar.

Eleven souls attend as apparitions, 

enframed, stilled, somehow captured 

in a flat box installed on beige plaster. 

Every plan, every conversation redlined 

from destination to starting point,

like the fairytale about a bride that’s not 

about a bride, but about country’s colors 

hidden in a meal, secured to the page. 

Every room becomes a classroom. Students 

appear with each new narrative, drawn in;

their stories are words in the air, avatars. 

Tea Flower

Camellias fall intact, petals & base 

together—no slow wilt & dwindle

—a different type of snowfall 

covering lawn or wildwood floor. 

Flowers unfurl bigger than the birds 

that seek seed & nectar. Come each 

November, a lone bird tucks between 

two blossom clusters, sways fragrant 

no matter which way the wind wanders. 

Brown twiggy legs grasp a branch. 

Leaf ends curl & turn at the point, 

beaklike. Winglike waxy leaf bodies 

shimmer ovoid. No bird feels alone 

if perched in a camellia, hanging 

precarious, branch tugged groundward 

by weight pull. We have forgotten 

ancient roots, tricked by centuries

of judging only the blooms, even 

a multi-petalled queen of winter. 

[inspired by Camellia and a Lonely Bird by Zhou Shuxi]


The smallest chantries & monuments

caught in hair, hems, & blankets. 

Movements. A collection of endings 

ground fine. Fine. The end of every 

history, I’m looking to make my own.  

What hubris to stand on all that. 

Every pathway ignites, activates  

a come-hither moon. Irresistible. 

Hard when a half Elvis-eyelid 

winks, streaky clouds, leans 

sardonyx, or a silver sliver moon

Cheshires back. Harder when black

rests the sky. Why pine for what is 

out of reach? Why take a place 

in the oldest line, only to long 

for the moon? What is it to stand 

on that shore, plastic pearls too small 

to see? Volcanic upsurge. Weathered 

leftovers eroded from rock, scrapings

from the heels of glaciered centuries. 

Remnants of mollusk suburbs. 

Poem Incorporating Four Lines by Takamura Kōtarō

Our skin awakens fiercely in the night. My knee, your thigh 

skim by. Our minds reach for each other. Skin-startled, 

eyes quick open, in a movement toward. Our insides 

writhe with the joy of existence at first light, windows wide-

mawed to let in air, a cooling rush, palm fronds a-rattle 

in parallel. Whatever we exhume in the night catches 

in a cross-breeze and leaves. Our hair radiates phosphorescent 

on sheets too long from the laundry, paler than our graying 

crowns. Our fingers find a life of their own and search over 

our bodies; hear again, we convince each other there is more 

to the slumber; the world’s voices drift, pushed by news 

of the day entangled like green-wired Christmas lights, 

fiercely shoved into storage. Wake to an entwined existence,

phosphorescent, sustained by the slow release of our bodies. 

(Takamura Kōtarō lines translated by John G. Peters)

Michele Parker Randall is the author of Museum of Everyday Life (Kelsay Books 2015) and A Future Unmappable, chapbook (Finishing Line Press 2021). Her work can be found in Nimrod International Journal, Atlanta Review, Bellevue Literary Review, Tar River Poetry, and elsewhere.

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