Three Poems | by Peggy Turnbull

Where Prayers Go

On a quiet drive home,
I pray to an ambiguous force,
skyward, where thoughts meet
the dimpled cloud belly
that stretches
over the city. Each recess holds a tiny tear
where sunlight, radiant in upper altitudes,
seeps through stratocumulus layers
and sifts to earth in cylindrical shapes.

My prayer floats through an opening,
passes into the heavens, flames
into nothingness. Some think
there’s power in what is etched
in a mind, propelled by a heart,
directed to the Word. I have no
evidence of that. Just that it soothes
my peripatetic brain and harms no one.

Once I awoke in a small room. My pale,
dark-haired lover turned to me and smiled.
A gold and red medal hung over his shoulder.
I didn’t know what it represented
or whether it kept him safe. Sunlight
streamed through linen curtains. Each molecule
of air felt dense as gold. The love we made,
did it come from us or was it sent to us?

Because when I think of where I send my prayers,
that’s where they go. Not to him or to that force
that drew us together, but to the atoms that witnessed us,
that spun away and told our story to new matter,
the DNA of love dancing, scattered to the galaxy.

The Winter I Lived in a Basement

Inside this cold cavern, I hear the north wind rip branches off trees. Unsure of the pipes and if they’ll freeze I fiddle with the kitchen faucet until I hear water drops percuss white porcelain. I dream of tiny tap dancers that skip across the concrete floor until the brutal slap of a trap wakes me. But the morning brings no bodies. The next night I doze with the light on. At midnight, a rat gallops past from a hole in the back. Just another mammal, like me, seeking warmth. Time to get a cat.

Coloring Inside the Lines

Behind lace panels.

a pale crystal

fractures feeble colors:

yellow whisper,

tear duct pink

a watery blue eye.

The creamy curtains

filter the sun’s power

until its rays are as weak

as her emotions.

Once a wild bird in her heart

flew out without permission,

then returned diminished.

Bats sleep in her attic,

slip out each night through the


return well fed.

She deprives herself,

dreams she is so thin

that she fits through floorboards

and floats away

over the guano.

The next day

she tars the escape hatch over.


Peggy Turnbull is a poet and retired academic librarian living in Wisconsin.  She enjoys hiking, but not in January.  Most recently, she was published inWhitmanthology:  On Loss and Grief.


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