Two Poems

Lightning Rhyme

August, wind gust, rain lust, drought,
Heart-shaped leaves and heart-shaped doubt.
Live oak, pin oak, hackberry,
Sun-singed lace in place of rosemary.
Lightning flashes,
Lightning branches,
Mimicking the oak it splits in three.
Which one sings, O woe is me?
The oak or the electricity?


A chain locked the big red barn 

so I held my daughters up to the rattling window

to see the “darkness,” a word 

they’d just learned and used 

with abandon. One lost her watermelon barrette. 

I celebrated the birthday I feared.

The next morning the mountain air 

snaked my legs while the people I loved slept 

under the blades of ceiling fans. I ran 

because I’d failed to run before 

and because children ran, wet grasses up to their waists 

in the gnarled orchard, pink ribbons 

fluttering out from their hands. When I think 

about that summer I think about the rocks 

piled into low walls and bound 

with nothing, the wind making desperate flags 

of the ferns. The EKG showed a deviation, a path 

I’d followed without realizing it was a path 

I couldn’t leave. An elderly couple walking in soft white shoes 

cheered me on. How strong and fast I was! 

Down the road I raced against the woods.

Cecily Parks is the author of the poetry collections Field Folly Snow (2008) and O’Nights (2015), and editor of The Echoing Green: Poems of Fields, Meadows, and Grasses (2016). Her poems appear or are forthcoming in The New Yorker, The New Republic, Best American Poetry 2020, and elsewhere. She teaches at Texas State University.