Madelon Y. Bolling



The student cafeteria looms around me.
A brash discussion of economic theory
sings out from four tables away; three
political conservatives argue principles
of rhetoric nearby. A visionary with sprouting beard
stares from blond curls into his unknown,
speaking scansion, choosing words.

I wrestle with the sampling distribution of the mean,
its standard deviation, and population parameters,
while a crow stashes tidbits under twigs
outside the window. Pigeons somehow forage here
indoors: a presence scarcely noticed, natural,
beneath our wings like breath and heartbeat,
and these feelings.

It might have been the setting sun, greening through arbutus leaves,
or light half glimpsed from the poet’s hair—something
brought the scent of summer dill weed bursting through
as though I held an armful there
in Uncle Henry’s South Dakota garden.

Then pigeons, minding me of mourning doves
that coo on Midwest farms, wandered by
and underward—softly as your empty arms
await that little Henry boy. So, blue words
found the paler empty lines among these figures
seeking probabilities,
and puttered pigeonfoot amid the algorithms
until the sun flashed tangerine
and settled mauve into the evening.

Now I set hope into the evening of probability
and hear a cry, somewhere, of “Mommy, Mommy!”
because your child is still out there,
and wants you badly, my dear friend.



Since mid-October, hopes and wishes
have drifted one by one to the ground.
Under winter sun, the barren trunk
and branches raise skeletal scaffolding
for summer’s leafy heft and sway.
No season is better than another.
Vast blue frigid light
reaches into the ache of this
and does not change it.
Other than that, nothing is clear.
The road ahead is gone under heavy mist.
Decisions hang undecided.
No way forward;
no way back.
Tick tock tick tock tick:
the cat wants out.
Tock tick tock tick tock:
the cat wants in.
I am thirsty.
Oh feet, press on.
Press into dark gravelly ground.

Even thirst—even thirst
is manifest light.