A Song in the Kayak of Mourning & A Day in the Woods | by Ashley Sapp


You point out the northern parula’s trill 
       to me as we cut through the water, 
birthed in the sunlight: the rising song 
       with the final sharp note. The yellow warbler 
not yet tentative of us. This is the harmony 
       I will remember when I am gone –
certain, I am, as I watch colors flick through, 
      a discovery of movement. Speak to me of birds, 
and I will commit their voices to memory 
       because you loved them. We brush hands 
as we pass, pathways carved in our fluid wake – 
       fringed, temporary. Our reflections stir 
beneath, broken. Do not grieve. My body is caught 
       alive, but there are hawk feathers in the water. 
Your children will sprout wings from their spines, 
       a tribute to invincible youth. What we find here 
will become home in the oaks. You point to me and 
       the trill is quiet. The final note, a question.


Witness how we plant young trees 
with dibble bars, pressing and pulling, 
creating a home like a god in the dirt. 
When you removed your hat 
to wipe your face, a glistening veneer 
beneath the sun, it was easy then to say, 
I love you. I was moved by your power, 
bending and pushing, and I, the tiny being, 
recalled how hard you work inside me, too. 
Moved, I say, against you and with you. 
Witness how we plant ourselves firmly, 
a prayer. When you straighten to observe 
your work, we can see the future of it, 
a hundred years of youth before us. 
How like god. When you turn to me, 
it is easy to say, use me, because I 
am built to be your sanctuary. 
Witness how you kneel, saying my name 
as only you can, and your filthy hands 
find me in the bright light, counting 
every freckle like a rosary bead leading 
to the cross between my breasts. 
Listening to how my body speaks. 
We are but two godlets in the woods, 
a refuge. I understand now why we 
keep planting - settling for what is 
difficult, yearning for what is ours.

Beeper Peddle is a writer and healer living on the East Coast. She lives with her partner and their beloved soul puppy. Beeper writes about sorrows, lies, and deep loves. When you read her work, you will dip down into her heart and end up in all manner of body parts. Should you find yourself reflected in these words, it is merely coincidence; however, it does not surprise her you share the same heart. Find her at bethpeddle.com and @beeperpeddle on Twitter and Instagram

Ashley Sapp (she/her) resides in Columbia, South Carolina, with her dog, Barkley. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from the University of South Carolina in 2010, and her work has previously appeared in Indie Chick, Variant Lit, Emerge Literary Journal, Common Ground Review, and elsewhere. Ashley has written two poetry collections: Wild Becomes You and Silence Is A Ballad. She can be found on Twitter @ashthesapp and Instagram @ashsappley. Website: https://linktr.ee/ashsappley