I returned to my birthplace in Wisconsin after living in central Appalachia for most of my adult life. Recently retired, I earned my living as a librarian. It seems to run in the family: My brother was a librarian, I married a librarian, and our son is studying to become a librarian. I'm the only poet among us, but I haven't given up hope for the others. My poems have recently appeared or are forthcoming in Solitary Plover, Plum Tree Tavern, and Soul-Lit.
Thanksgiving for City-Dwelling Creatures
Creator God, thank you for mammals
that share our neighborhoods.
For the coyote who leaps onto my path.
His fur gleams white in my headlights.
Keep him unhurt, that he may continue
to range across acres of farmland
and raid furrowed fields.
For the fawn with spindle-legs
who swims across a dark river,
scrambles up a steep bank,
and fades into a backyard wood.
For sightings on city walks:
skunk, muskrat, mink, fox, possum.
Like disguised fairy folk, they appear,
then vanish into concealed worlds.
May we maintain sufficient habitat
for them in our tame neighborhoods.
May they pursue their restless hungers
safe from poisons, pellets, and killing traps.
May these wild beings remind us
that we are not alone, remind us
of your vast and mysterious presence.
Creator God, help us coexist in peace.
Prayer for Getting Out
he almost murders her
his grip around her neck
slackens, she escapes
to the nearest flea-bag motel
falls to her knees
calls your many names
o mighty, magnificent
weaves a prayer
flings it to you
passes an ungodly night
in the chintzy place
where prostitutes knock
and glass breaks for hours
the next day
brings pebbles of pain
where his fingers
pressed her neck
her voice stays small
for he will find her
When I first sang to Allah,
I shook in fear of His powerful name.
Hesitantly, I joined others
holding hands in a ring.
On the right--a sweaty hand.
On the left—an icy hand.
Surrounded by strangers,
I sang and chanted.
Surrounded by companions,
I whirled and stepped.
We sent our prayers with open hearts,
sent them upwards with our arms,
received back joy.
Oh Allah—you delighted me.
When may I return to your presence?
© 2018 Peggy Turnbull
Editor's Note: If this poem(s) moves you please consider writing to the author (email address above) to tell him or her. You might say what it is about the poem that moves you. Writing to the author is the beginning of community at Verse Virtual. It is very important. -FF