by Susan McClellan

by Alfred Fournier

Volunteer Gardener

A stranger could discern, her every step
is painful: the way her hip hinge arches
on the forward lurch; her wry, tenacious
stride distracting from a face drawn tight.

Yet, she turns up each day to sort the seeds,
plants them in loamy soil on hands and knees,
then waters in; freshens with brightest blooms
your walk from parking lot to cubicle.

She smiles as you pass, as if she knew
you bore her secret close, conspiracy
of dignity. It’s all she asks, and just
to serve the world color a little longer.


Riding High

In a bustling store a week before Christmas,
a young father, titan-tall, stomps playfully
among rushed shoppers. His baby, buoyed
on broad shoulders, peers like a periscope
above the festive world. Eyes gobbling
red and green glitter along bright aisles,
eager to attach to each passing face.

Teen girls twittering by break stride to adore.
An old woman bent in black looks up,
her timeworn face blossoming with light.

He beams at me, eyes a mirror wide as sky,
and I believe like he believes, my urgent errand
set aside. Welcome to the world, child. Ride high,
like all of life is Christmas.


About the photographer: Susan McClellan enjoys writing and photography. She has degrees in communications media and library science, and has worked as a librarian for more than 20 years. Her book reviews have appeared in the School Library Journal and the Public Libraries blog.