These I saw: small onions laid

with their root discs punctuating

the longitude poles. Polar caps, 

yes, navels to the earth where 

their buried unions still hold.


That space along the stalls,

unpeopled on this damp morning,

stops me (for it insists), with the 

white parking lines leaping 

to the distant edge of gray asphalt, 

and to the gray and black

of my mind’s caverns.

There is beauty and there is 

the comfort of isolation,

desolation remembered. 

Why (I ask myself)

should I crave this comfort, 

which would seem black, dead?


I walk in this same privacy

where the dead black

chicken house vibrates in the stink

of manure, and winds from the west,

and the dead black of a remembered

gas tank rising by the road?

Does the pensive void pull me

to the empty, and therefore personal,

paving, begetting a sage

from my wilderness to give life

to the vacancy?




A turbulence of earthquakes

has etched rivers through

my stucco plains.


Its engravings thread,

lightning forms, from the

epicenter out into vastness.


Not until some determined

handyman caulks them white

will they dry up.


And where they disappear

will flow other rivers,

long in new courses.


The daddy longlegs and

trestle builders will direct them,

and replenish my plains.




There is no top. There are always further heights to reach.


—Jascha Heifetz, Lithuanian-born violinist


Once in a while,

the drifts of what I hear

arc above muddy sounds,

and their permanence is sensible,

I am glad to sharpen my listening.


Will I, like the young who need

high volume sound piped into their

ears until the throbs beat again,

attune my listening only to my whims?


My ears, catchment basins of sound

and filters against the cacophony

which is merely noise, increase keenly,

and reach beyond the familiar,

and learn anew as Heifetz did.




Teal blue the naugahyde,

pale green the dividers,

a row house of chairs stood anchored.


Prompt and well-oiled, the elevator

opened and closed, closed and opened.

The floor bore quiet foot traffic.


Restless the psyche in waiting,

witness the unending watcher.

People went down and up and down.


For the languishing, rest in sitting,

for the chatterer, audience.

The stressed simply slept.


The hospital picks petals

from the blossom patients

and sets them upright for attention.




The catch-cornered room

reserved for me

emptied its vacancy

for my possession.


I brought in all the boulders

and dog smells, books

unpeeled, and parking places

collected in distant hours.


But I left motion and motor outside. 

My room had no space for the violence 

of traveling, high speed, fear of eighteen-

wheelers spinning at eighty.


For my ease, the reserved room

breathed quiet, and absence of

forced invasion up the interstate,

and noise of the passing gears.


I let the quiet and its particular

liveliness tickle over me

like leaves of aspen blowing

green and silver in the sun.


My quiet, enlarging room

has its own noon and night,

its hours resplendent in

active gold, catching light.



Phoebe Marrall, orphaned at the age of nine, was a survivor of The Depression and of a grueling childhood. When she died in 2017 at the age of eighty-four, her daughters Jane Hendrickson and Camille Komine inherited hundreds of poems she had written. They remained unpublished during her lifetime, but it is the intention of her daughters that a collection be compiled for readers to appreciate. “Relief, Have You a Name?” is currently a work in progress, being edited by Gayle Jansen Beede.

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