by Arra Lynn Ross

A moment of understanding
     when the face lights up
          and even the trees seem to kneel.
The mossy ground
     below a huge willow
          by the side of the marsh.
Children who come
     with white faces
          and turn pink
               in the sun.
The sound of sawing in the woods
          and the long lone hum
               of a boat bearing lumber
                    down the Hudson.
The sudden deer in the trees,
          a streak of white tail
               and the hoof prints
                    filling with water.
The sound of voices
          rounding out with grace,
               with trust.
                    And rosehip tea steaming in the sun.
How many times we threw off our shoes
          and danced together,
               the cool ground under our soles.
                    And the mud! churned by feet, and horses,
                       ox-carts and cows.
          The open throats
               and closed eyes,
                    that red ringing
                         inside my heart.
And mornings that Lucy sang
     making breakfast,
          snatches of hymns
               stuck together.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Arra Lynn Ross grew up on a communal farm in Minnesota and attended Macalester College in Saint Paul, where she earned her BA in English. She completed her PhD in creative writing from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and currently teaches creative writing at Saginaw Valley State University in Michigan. Her work has appeared in Spoon River Poetry ReviewHayden’s FerryBeloit Poetry Journal, and Alimentum. Ross’s poems have also been featured on Verse Daily and the Academy of American Poets’ Poem-a-Day. “Mother Ann Tells Lucy What Gave Her Joy” appears in her collection Seedlip and Sweet Apple (Milkweed Editions, 2010), available at or at Milkweed Editions.

Illustration: “The Willow Weeps,” digitally painted photo by Bonnie Bruno, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Prints available at