Too Far

I forced myself to sleep like a fretful child

just after takeoff because the growing distance

between you and me made my head throb,

and eight hundred miles later I woke with a start

and pressed my temple to the glass as though

I’d only been looking out instead of dreaming

I was falling, and I saw the horizon split into blue

above and snow below only it wasn’t snow

it was clouds and I was looking at the tops of things

I’d only seen from the bottom before and they

opened up like pack ice breaking loose

in an arctic summer and between the floes

was an ocean of gray water with ancient peaks

beneath the waves only it wasn’t an ocean

but the dry land under the clouds and

the crests weren’t submarine mountains but

the folds of upheaved earth chafing the bellies

of cirrocumuli, and you were not there when

I turned to say “oh look!” and you’re not here

to tell stories of learning to fly and the grace of land

and sky when they linked arms in a reel and swung

each other round, and I’m not there to smile at

your memories and imagine I can see as you did.

No. We are parting, though we insist we are not.

Each time I go and you stay, we part,

like the land down below where a runnel

cuts a canyon from stone.

©Dana Hughes 10.29.17


We always said Mother was a magpie,

collecting trinkets of any shape or size

as long as they sparkled.


She adored the flash of the fake diamond

on her finger turning it this way and that

to blaze with light.


Though the real jewel of her mind dulled

and winked down to ash she still

insisted on wearing


a festoon of green and gold Mardi Gras

beads that she found in the street after

a parade had passed.


In the end we had to open so many tiny

boxes crammed with shiny things of

little or no value


and remember she was always a magpie

yet when she left there was no flash

of white on black wings


nor the blue iridescence of feathers in

flight to signal a well-made departure

just a faint swirling


as corner dust stirred when the covers

ceased their agonal rising and the hand

with the ring grew still.


©Dana Hughes 10.4.17






Up early and feeling frisky, October’s moon whistled a

dusky tune through pursed lips, and as one the flock of

cumulo-orpington clouds bustled eastward to fluff

and settle wing to wing on the roost of purpling crags.


©Dana Hughes 10.2.17

After the Rain


The storms came on heavy and low like peasant women

dragging gray baskets of laundry to the hills where they

flailed their sheets against the rocks until the water ran

clear and each sodden piece was wrung nearly dry.

What remains of clouds now are linty fragments

trailing shadows on the heights so the mountains

become a pack of brindle hounds sleeping in the sun.

©Dana Hughes 10.1.17