By Judy Mathews 

Wild Grass

I blow as wind rushes through me
witnessing life on these
open plains
the prairie dogs burrowing
into the Earth
I can feel them
making homes safe
from the rest of the world;
I see the snowy owl speculating
dinner as it rises from my cover—its prey—
the prairie dogs scamper
jostling my roots, shuffling
through my stalks as
they run for cover. Wing
tips, belly, and claws
brush my seed heads
scattering some to the wind;
a pale full moon rises casting
light and shadow into me.
messages come from seeds
rooted elsewhere—smog of cities,
taint of gas and garbage decay
as urban sprawl gathers volume—
the fringes of my prairie are singed,
and the rustling of my stalks
crackle now, a sound of fire
alerts prairie dogs—
they pop up and out,
fire’s predation precedes
itself. My body’s peripheries ripple
puckering black; Humanity
exceeds itself, clouds cover
the moon—rain falls—
the owl flies North,
the prairie dogs chirp
and click to each other—
my large expanse still shelters—
for now.

Walks Over Pearson’s Bridge

Snow on trees,
a park dappled in early winter,
daylight blends to twilight,
clouds blanket—deep darkened day;
footsteps—Addie’s and mine
a bridge connects, just there, one side to the other—
wooden, pulpy with precipitation— a quiet creak,
we walk over it,
wind caresses my face, ruffles her fur,
carries bridge’s voice—nova November—
we breathe it in—restored.
Echoing wind wickers
through deciduous forest bordered
by busy streets—submerged
in silence of chirping spring woods
Addie’s ears perk up, the trees amplify—
whooshing wind—robins and warblers
alight on the bridge—a bow over swift water
a pause in the day,
flight North by West— a warbler rests
before refuging at Magee Marsh;
the bridge blackened by fresh rain
lifetimes whittled by bird-song.
Grouching at Addie’s level,
her sight-line, entrancing.


(it is too hot to walk)
Aching, creaking—
bridge’s verbed voice groans
while shrieking children
drum their footsteps
over bowed planks
protesting commands
underfoot; fecked and fickled,
warp and weft of its wood,
pale, even in the shade where
dehydrated creek bed
wafts up amorous decay.
Scarlet red, heaven gold, fiery orange
tumble toward earth, brushing the bridge,
catching in bridge’s wood
they blow back and forth snagging,
trapped in planks, stuck till stormy winds—
fall’s furious changeling songs—unsettled nymph—
her armies of rain rush, pounding;
Swollen wood, bridge barely quakes with weight,
we stop, hearing its agree-ability—
Addie sensing the Holy stands motionless—
we are here—silence enters our thoughts
while bridge holds us
forest rattles with foragers—
no waiting for winter—leaves spiral;
quiet death roaring inside our deciduous park.

Judy Mathews received her Master of Fine Arts degree from Spalding University in their Master of Fine Arts in writing program. Her writing has appeared in The Tau, The Badlands: Winter 2019, The Avalon Literary Journal, Wild Roof Journal, The Round Table Literary Journal, and a recent Pushcart Prize nomination for a poem published in The Round Table Literary Journal. Judy is an online adjunct English instructor for Hopkinsville Community College. She is currently working on a collection of poems focusing on local natural places, and a novel inspired by four generations of strong women in her family and how family stories are interconnected to place. She has lived in Northwest Ohio for over forty years, and loves all the natural beauty the Toledo, Ohio and its suburbs has to offer.