Two Poems by Shauna Shiff

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Sunrise

Each morning begins before night ends.
The dog’s nose nudges her insistent hurry
hurry! I can not wait! So in the dark, slow

with sleep and still dream-thick, we walk.
Sometimes the sky is star bitten, sometimes
there is a moon, always, always the houses

are shadowed and shuttered, always the road
disappears beneath me, the black tar bleeding
into the black ink of night. It is just she and I

in the predawn, the quick click of her nails
the only sound – even the birds are burrowed
in branches, songless. Mid-trot, she stops.

I look where she looks. Nothing moves
under the tall pines and poplar, nothing
in the field. Nothing is there. I tug her

leash to remind her: home. But then I see
what my dog knows—there are three of us.
Against the edge where the woods end,

a shape stands and stares. I watch it and it
watches me. The animal stretches his head
towards us, screeches his other-worldly

coyote wail. The sound is a shot that sets
all of us sprinting straight into the dark,
so the road is empty again when a new day

finally decides to break clean open.

 

Your Magic Wrapped Tight

Everyone told me this would happen.
By thirteen, I’d turn more mad-scientist
than mother, pin my own child
across the page, a butterfly stabbed
through with tracks, magnifying glass
pressed to my eye, studying the subtle
unfurling of the antennae for a message—
any message, but the wires tap a code
I can not break. The only truth I know
for sure is that the wiggle of your wings
means you want to be freed.

Shauna Shiff is an English teacher in Virginia, a mother, wife and textiles artist. Her poems and short stories can be found in Stoneboat Literary Journal, Atticus Review, Cold Mountain Review, Green Ink Poetry, Cola and upcoming in others. In 2022, she was nominated for Best of the Net.

Image: Victoria Lee Croasdell, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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