Shadow Existence

On the way to work
a large bird flew overhead.
I wouldn’t have known
it was there
had it not wedged itself
between me
and the late morning sun.

Bird Bath

Some stories
belong under the bathroom sink
beneath a broken pipe
where rests dirty water,
toothpaste spit
and soap scum.


My hands are cupped—filled with spring water
where birds can play, drink.

When we’re finished,
we’ll dry our eyes.

Bird of the Smokey Wind

In the winter, he ruffles his feathers
against the wind, perched in an Osage
orange tree with its paper trunk,
a hundred yards from his partner,
another hawk, a foot tall.
From a half mile away, they spot
a little mouse running for cover.
As quick as a snake in a wheat field,
one of the beautiful raptors
will kill it to survive.

The Hawk

I will always be anxious
and you will always speak
with surprising irony
and both of us
will always be hungry
for freedom
for the world
and for each other.

An elixir of time and space,
you were a canyon eternally deep
and I was the wind whispering
until darkness would drink you up.
Then I was the wind wailing.

You were the stalwart rock;
I was the ever-flickering flame
and with great gasps
like martyrs in a renaissance drama
we would drop to our knees
as if somehow we had earned
the right to shout “glory.”

You were a hawk
and I was your stain against the sky
splattered like fins of silver
in your stony talons
and together we carried
all of our stories
and dropped each one
into caves, sleeting and frozen.

We were flames
we were birds
we were singers
but mostly we were wrestlers,
wrestling the sweetness of hunger
with the sun of many days
rising between us.

Image credit:Joe deSousa

Cheryl Leverette—the pen name of Cheryl Ann Dodd—was a prolific poet who drew much inspiration from the company of other writers and artists online. She died on May 27, 2019. The rest of her inspiration came from her family. For her author bio on Open Arts Forum, she wrote, "I'm a grandmother living in Tennessee, enjoying my family and semi-retirement. I love writing and poetry as a hobby and also as a learning experience. It keeps me sharp."