What the Willows Wanted

Nature art field summer

We came because the willows called
across a stubbled field,
a centennial farmhouse sat
behind the behemoth ash
all gloried out in leafy hues,
the road had been a trail
for natives long ago dispersed
their graven sorrows
buried deep in earth.

Behind the house a field grown
soft and spongy under foot where
cloud-like willows beckoned,
breathed light their wind-swept songs
waved their lingering arms
in welcome.

That night returned in dulcet dream
whispering my name,
spoke in tree tongues
ancient tales
when they were sapling stems
straight supping from the spring,
when black-haired women dressed in skins
charged clay jars with water
bubbling from the earthen underworld.

Green-tongued willows
sang wordless, wise
willows of a thousand summers
and ten thousand eyes said come,
we will heal you
and pour our stranded stories
until your soul is full.


Poem by Elizabeth Paxson

Elizabeth Paxson is a writer and graduate of the Interlochen Arts Academy and Minneapolis College of Art. Short stories; “Crow Baby” and “They Lived in Trees,” appeared 2019 with Night Picnic Press, a bilingual journal in English and Russian, and “Selkie Love” in 2021. Her first chapbook, “Always Birds,” is published with Redbird Chapbooks, June 2019. Her poems have appeared in collections such as Equinox Journal, Red Weather (2021) Peaceable Kingdom, Poet’s Night Out, (2016-18,) Pangolin Press, Squirrel Cane Press, and Tiny Seed Journal, among others.