Two Poems by Ann Bracken

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Inner Compass

Golden shovel from David Whyte’s poem “Sweet Darkness”
“…anyone or anything that does not bring you alive it too small for you.”

It could rain anything
during the night—leaves, perhaps— or
maybe you dream of anyone
speaking a riddle that
you can answer. In what language does
a cardinal call? You yearn for time not
designed by Techie gurus who bring
unending yet pointless updates to you.
None of them will keep you alive
until your imagination is
free to understand that too
many things feel small
because a cramped vision is useless for
the world that calls to you.

Stone to Sand

Time works slowly—the rounding of mountain peaks, the way it turns stone to sand. Was I born at the beach? It’s as much home to me as it is to the seagulls and the sand pipers. When I walk near the ocean, it’s as if I’m a selkie yearning to swim deeper, find my treasure under the waves. I have been every color on this shore—a pink and white newborn, a red, Noxema-covered child building castles, a tan, sun-soaked woman floating in front of a cresting wave.

This beach knows my life’s secrets. The lonely teen struggling to be cool while the lifeguards swooned over her friend, the mother teaching her toddler to kneel in front of the breakers, suddenly seeing why her child was terrified at their crashing. The woman, walking in the moonlight.

Now I meditate to the sounds of waves at dusk and lick salt from my reddened skin. Wrapping myself in a towel, I savor the turn of another day. Whatever comes next will be a blessing and a joy. Time works slowly—the rounding of mountain peaks, the way it turns stone to sand.

Ann Bracken has published three poetry collections, The Altar of Innocence, No Barking in the Hallways: Poems from the Classroom, and Once You’re Inside: Poetry Exploring Incarceration. She serves as a contributing editor for Little Patuxent Review and co-facilitates the Wilde Readings Poetry Series in Columbia, Maryland. She volunteers as a correspondent for the Justice Arts Coalition, exchanging letters with incarcerated people to foster their use of the arts. Her poetry, essays, and interviews have appeared in numerous anthologies and journals, her work has been featured on Best American Poetry, and she’s been a guest on Grace Cavalieri’s The Poet and The Poem radio show. Her advocacy work promotes using the arts to foster paradigm change in the areas of emotional wellness, education, and prison abolition.

Image: Chiring chandan, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

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