3 Poems by Cindy Baldwin

By Cindy Baldwin


you wake
to the tarry sky outside, an echo
of the heaviness in your arms,
legs, eyelids,
each cell bound
in its own ring of pain.

The rain drips
from wet leaves, red leaves,
crimson against that sky,
bleeding across the green
still left there on the tree,
to the fire beneath your skin.

you want this poem to end
in hope, but death always comes
first: bending sickle
to the harvest, ripping
old from new
until the butterflies
fly free over new blossoms
in spring, and you
are made light again,
remembering what it is to die
and live, to die and live
each moment.

“Summer Leaves” © Masters Quill (https://www.flickr.com/photos/100720454@N07/9637350087)

The Day the Dolphins Came

They came in the twilight of early morning
     Black arcs slicing through the green-grey water, glistening
like obsidian in the dim dawn light. We waded in,
     pajamas saturated by the warm silk of the ocean,
arms outstretched, beckoning to those black fins,
     rubber skin, wide smiles. Dozens, hundreds, swam by us—
always just out of our reach.

At last we returned, wet through, clothes dripping
     huge spots into the sand. And as the morning light sharpened
we watched them swim away to the west
     shining, shining in the silver sea.

The ghost

She lives high up in the maple boughs,
not far from the azure-egged robin’s nest—
in the space between one breath and the next,
the place that is neither here nor there:

She lives, and sometimes when you walk
beneath her tree, you feel her fly down to meet
you, the soft brush of her silent silk fingers
against your thrumming heart

And in that moment you can feel it all:
the visceral sensation of your once-short limbs,
the quicken of the blood inside your veins
remembering, remembering what it was

To be small, to be held in the cup of the world
like a prayer, to drink the sunlight on your skin
and grow ever upward, questing always
for things out of reach of your small arms—

And then you are back to yourself, and leaving
behind once more in her dappled home
the sweet-souled ghost of the child you used to be,
wrapped in gossamer memory.

Cindy Baldwin is a novelist, essayist, and poet. She lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband and daughter, surrounded by tall trees and wild blackberries. Her debut novel, “Where the Watermelons Grow,” will be released from HarperCollins Children’s Books on July 3, 2018. To learn more about Cindy, visit www.cindybaldwinbooks.com.

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