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two poems

by Ruth Dickey

Swallowing the Sun



I thought I knew all the stories, hoarded them 

like coins, polished with fingers and tongue,  


but this morning dad and I are talking about poems, days to months

mounding the miles between us.  


He says mom would have been tickled to know 

you’ve built a life in words.  I ask why, always hungry 


for more of her, and he tells me she wrote down  poems I whispered

and sang before I could write, 


kept them gathered for years. This new story, of which 

I have no memory, but can imagine, is like swallowing


the sun, eyelids filling with flickers of handwriting,

afternoons honeyed with light.  I’m sorry, he says, 


I probably threw them out in the move.  But I am 

only glow.  It doesn’t matter, I say, and it doesn’t, 


my mom newly refracted, clutching this new piece  of us, stunned

there can be any new understandings:


she taught me my words mattered, before I could gather them myself, before

the world could tell me different.






I Find Holes Everywhere



I found my mother in my closet.               She was singing words I couldn’t quite make out,                       folding something large


I followed her voice,  found her turning to me,            ran surprised to find her

solid,   held her swaying,


saying,              over and over,  I miss you so much,                 I miss  so much,              

miss,       words blurring and folding


blending as we turned.                     I found the dog, fur curled  in my fists,            found the bottom sheet               ripped in a long fault.



Maple leaves are flames                        flinging themselves earthward, 




                rain lullabies open,       my mom sways somewhere





we all fold something,              every tree spirals skyward:






                I find holes everywhere,                       hands full of sheets and fur.



Ruth Dickey’s second book, our hollowness sings, is forthcoming from Unicorn Press in May 2024. An ardent fan of dogs and coffee, Ruth’s poems have recently appeared in Cave Wall, Painted Bride Quarterly, StorySouth, SWIMM, Radar Poetry, and Zocalo Public Square. More at



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