Poetry by Patricia Zylius

Read More: A Brief Interview with Patricia Zylius

Soil Song

I squeeze a fat, sweet fistful
and I want to taste it.
Feldspar’s luster, glimmer
of quartz and mica.
The slow dissolve of mole bones
into minerals. Worm castings.
Microbes humming withered leaves
and insect bits into humus.
Oh bless those tiny multitudes
wedded to roots,
the give and take of riches.
Bless what springs from this dark loam —
golden fragrances, the shimmer
of petal and fruit, brilliant brassicas.
I harvest, too, the grace of work.
And so I serve. Put on my garden clothes,
vestments I wear for this one sacrament —
soil embedded in the knees of old pants,
green stains on a frayed-necked shirt —
and take up my spade, my rake.
Leave my empty shoes on the wooden steps.

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Little Grandpa Joe

Balder every year, he’d throw his head back
and laugh at everything, toothless mouth
like a grown-up baby’s, his gums
shrunken and hardened by use.
He cut his meat into tiny bits,
shaved the kernels off the cob,
mashed margarine and salt into the corn,
and gummed it all to pulp.
Once he put his false teeth in for us
and grinned against the pain they caused.
I thought him simple.
I didn’t know what simple could mean —
the lightness of his laughter,
the ease and dailyness of it,
joy in the face of the world’s snarling.


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Were you close to your mother?                                                                                                                   

One night in my high school years I half-woke
to a palm against my cheek. Father? Mother?
I didn’t want to know. It was enough
to feel awash in love. I turned away and slept.
I’d like to think, now, it was my mother.
Yes, we were close, the way two hands pressed
to opposite sides of thick glass are close.


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Our rates are variable so that everyone can enjoy outstanding literature.
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Patricia Zylius is the author of the chapbook Once a Vibrant Field. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in California Quarterly, Passager, Catamaran Literary Review, Ellipsis, Natural Bridge, Red Wheelbarrow, and other journals, and on the Women’s Voices for Change website. Her poems have also been included in In Plein Air, Women Artist Datebook, and The Yes Book.

Read More: A Brief Interview with Patricia Zylius