Barbara Parchim


the aurora borealis this first time
begins as the loons are yodeling crazily
from the far shore across the lake,
not yet frozen in this northern winter

it appears as a luminous semicircle
stretching the entire horizon,
like a giant planet gone off course,
ready to collide with earth

as it grows and looms closer,
we huddle on the pier,
caught between fear and fascination
as I keep asking — what is it? —
until the edges begin breaking up,
lazy streamers of green, blue and purple
veils shifting and shrouding —
slow motion, exquisite and impossible,
across the palette of northern sky

too soon the sky returns to constellations,
the loons settle for the night
and adrenaline slows in the arteries —
the mystery solved, but not yet ordinary

another nugget of clarity to join the others —
small enough to fit in the pocket
and pull out when the evening news 
proves too much to face yet again

something shiny a crow would stash —
a prism turning in the sun,
a crystal found half-buried in the sand,
a bit of gold chain glinting at the garden gate,
or this half-hour of ethereal lights
like some cosmic cypher 
hovering over our wounded planet —
fragile, after all, but not yet lost

Barbara Parchim lives on a small farm in southwest Oregon. She has worked as a landscaper, apple picker, library assistant, travel agent and social worker and volunteered for several years at a wildlife rehab center caring for resident raptors and wolves. She draws most of her inspiration from nature – the garden, the wilderness and wildlife. Her poems have appeared in Allegro, Windfall, Turtle Island Quarterly, Cirque, Jefferson Journal and many others. Her first book of poetry, What Remains, was published by Flowstone Press in October 2021.
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