Montana Metal

Copper glistens in deference to brilliant sunlight. It wires itself around our lives, brings ease and comfort, a combination of access and heat. Twin to the cook pot, seething atop a blue fire, transmitting a menu plan. Copper art hangs in the window, curled around like a serpent digesting amber glass balls that rearrange light on the wall.

Copper joy, copper light, copper theft for a price. Steal thirst for a century. Crush a society carved in the west out of nothing but a few battles with the locals. Copper makes friends. And enemies. A golden glow requires a good polish now and then. The favored color of an old mascot hat for the football team.

Dig. Mine. Discover. Bend. Shape. Create. A bottle of copper hair upon my head brings attention no matter what. Metal required to fend off compliments or long gazes with dangling open mouths. She is copper-colored, they say. Good or bad. Friend or foe. Better to be copper-colored than steel gray.

–Victoria Emmons, 2017

White Flag

Crown of the hillside stretches beyond
imagination farther than vision allows
to a divine world of plenty,
too precious to be mine.

Sparky and I follow the path across
a grassy meadow teeming with life that
foretells spring, falling snowflakes
a reminder that change comes with pain.

Bearable silence surrounds us, stunning and real,
envelopes us as if a cloak of solace has risen up
to engage. We stand amidst Heaven on Earth,
breathing in its glory and wonderment.

Creatures of all colors reside in harmony as sunset
overtakes the day, surpasses our wildest dreams.
Wildlife define their routines as we do ours,
cautious, yet equal, we walk similar paths.

A dozen white flags rise up on the horizon,
quiet and still at first, eyes watch, ears listen,
then tails wave madly, thundering out of fear
down into the valley the herd flies.

We stop, creep closer to the edge, observe the show
as ten or twelve deer race to safer ground.
Sparky raises her own little, white flag in tribute.
In silence, we walk on together, surrender to the hillside.

–Victoria Emmons, 2017

If eyes could tell

If life resided in darkness, eyes disappeared into
caves where feelings navigate the world
amongst dangers of the sea,
who would be  
me?

If skies were never blue, only void of color and light,
causing fear in a vast unknown universe,
where would flowers
grow?

If bumps in the night, the ever present night,
were all that could be seen for miles of highway,
what road would we
take?

If life mirrored that of a blind cavefish,
born with vision lost to age and a film of
skin, a cataract of sorts,
how would we
see?

If age dissipated vision, unable to differentiate
black or white, left or right, male or female,
rich or poor, young or old, half or whole,
when would discrimination
vanish?

If life had no pigment, simply blank void where
reliance on touch, sound,
emotion guided every step,
could we escape larger prey for hundreds of thousands of
years?

If we escaped our fears, learned to love blindness,
to embrace what lives in the dark, to lie side by side,
skin to skin, smile to smile,
could we not better survive, like an ancient blind
fish?

–Victoria Emmons, 2017

Morning

The night before change
wolves sing out under a
faraway moon on a steep hillside
whose walls echo their sad cries
’til dawn rearranges the world.

A wet nose rubs against
my feet, says good morning,
awakens my senses to
the hour, later than usual
given daylight savings.

Bark of a different kind outside
where my puppy protects her
new yard from predator
squirrels who leap without care
from limb to limb.

Morning greets too soon, as all
must adjust internal clocks
to a man-made idea of time
headed toward a new spring
leaping to the future.

–Victoria Emmons, copyright 2016

Invisible Wings

The door opens to a flutter of wings
that swoop in the dark before my eyes,
unseen, yet a whisper of wind foretells.

Wings up to nothing but mischief, no doubt,
like a foal that kicks up its heels in an open field
joyous at the very suggestion of life.

Wings that follow the wind to where it leads
then capture moonlit flights to nowhere
and laugh at the twinkling stars above.

Wings that spell voracious hunger to search
for tiny unsuspecting creatures seeking light
and warmth through the cool, summer night.

Wings squeezed into a dime-size sliver of space
to spend the morning hours in sleep while
others begin the motion of daily routine.

Wings that share my house and come out
to play whilst I dream of rainbows and rivers,
invisible wings that disappear for another day.

–Victoria Emmons, copyright 2015

Roses

Curved bowls long erased
carry the dust of roses
too fragile to remember
their sordid past

Nestled in a heap
dry as time evaporates
from lack of care
a monument of sorts

Recalling high school dances
faded photos of happy brides
birthday parties and cakes
an oak casket size small

Each flower breathes no more
colors faded from the original
attempt at beauty until passion
renews in one, sweet scent.

–Victoria Emmons, Copyright 2015

Mud

A gift of mud
From a dear friend
Turns my head
In a new direction

Not just any mud,
Of course, since
This mud traveled
Long distances

Through customs
Weighting down an
Already heavy suitcase
Of trinkets and souvenirs

This mud revered
By millions over time
Anecdote for pain
Soothing an ache or two

And now mine
To ease the hurt
Of an aging body
And cloudy mind

The mud draws me
Closer again
Pulls me toward
The clear water

Falls tumble
Over the edge
Like so many
Nights I remember

The sound of the flow
As it eased his pain
Warmth the only remedy
For his affliction

All these years
I could not go
Near the water
Or the memories

Of that huge tub
Filled with pain
And agony
Loneliness and sorrow

At night I hear
The faucet running still
As it was those dark
And deadly nights

Awakening me with
The reality of a cancer
Poisoning life as
We once knew it

The mud equals
Renewal and healing
Fifteen to twenty minutes
Is all it promises

Skin renewed, soft
Gentle kindness
Rinsed away in
Warm waters

I can do this
My aging flesh
Will accept the hot
Pool beneath me

No longer must I hide
From the bathtub of death
When life beckons
Me to play

Ironic somehow
The birth of
This renewal mud
The Dead Sea

—Victoria Emmons © 2015

Rings of Time

In the middle ring
The oldest of the circular
Bands of time that surround
My life in the kitchen
Lies the center of my world

Lively areas encircle me
Hug the very middle in a
Friendly way that feels calm
And loving, comfortable
Yet in need of a dust mop

Yellow fur balls float
In mid-step on a staircase
Filled with 20 years of
Family ups and downs
To nowhere and everywhere

The middle ring houses
Sizzling salmon or steak
Teacups for a visitor
Books packed with recipes
A loyal sleeping dog

A door swings open to
Tables and chairs awaiting
A friend or someone else
Who cares enough to listen
To my pounding heart

Loud voices fill the next room
Strangers in a digital frame
Tell me to swallow a pill
To cure my heartbreak or
Headache or incontinence

Bottles beckon in a dance
Of red and white and brown
Along the well-stocked bar
An adjoining ring of hope
To splash away worries

Beyond the walls lie the newest
Of the circles, those that tell
A story of love, nature and loss
Under an umbrella of shade
That covers my acre of life

Fear prevents me from scaling
The walls to the outer rings
Unable to risk failure
Or satisfaction,
Worse yet, a grand success

Safety is in the middle ring
Protection under glass
My soul divided must be scorned
Shame hidden deep within
Paralyzes me with laughter

Beg you, come out and play
They always try to coax
Knowing I will refuse
In favor of the inner prison
Where I must live to thrive

–Victoria Emmons, © 2014

D-Day

Paula had warned me they were there. I had my doubts. It had been 15 years since I moved into my house and I had never seen one. She was certain they were hiding out there somewhere. I just hadn’t found any yet. Today was the day.

I was washing the brick barbecue area in my back yard. The sink next to the gas grill was filled with dry, crinkled leaves that were clogging up the drain. It is nearly autumn and my oak trees have begun to discard more of their leaves and twigs. I reached in and pulled out a handful of the debris that had filled the sink. And there they were hiding under the mulch….two medium-sized scorpions each with their claws extended. I had been cleaning this sink with my bare hands. I took a step backward in disbelief. I knew I could not wash the creatures down the drain. I searched for a sturdy twig on the ground, picked it up and began my task. The pair had to be destroyed.

The larger one, the female, was slower since she was carrying her future children. She went first. As she died, she deposited her eggs, a final effort to assure her progeny survived. I felt like a beast. The smaller of the two, the male, fought hard. Even when I thought he was gone, after my sword had crushed his body, his wiggling claws demonstrated his vitality.

I was still uncomfortable about my own safety. I knew a scorpion bite could be very painful and even deadly. Only 30 of the 1,500 species of scorpion can inflict potentially fatal stings. But which 30, I asked? I didn’t have time to look that up before I dealt with these two scorpions that had taken up residence.

Despite the huge variance in our sizes, the scorpions and I battled until the end. The eggs were washed down the drain to their own fate. I snagged the scorpion bodies with my twig and moved them up onto the brick countertop. I needed to reassure myself that they had been properly exterminated. And then I saw a third. He had escaped my sight earlier, hiding along with a medium-sized black spider under the mass of gunk in my sink. This one seemed to move slower than the other two. Yet he was equally as difficult to destroy. All three of the scorpions living in my sink were unaware that today was D-Day. The spider was set free.

—Victoria Emmons, © August 31, 2014